Thanks to the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, there are more ideas than ever surfacing about how best to advance eastern Kentucky’s economy forward. Some of those ideas have real potential to make a lasting and broad-based impact for a high number of people. Some others are unfortunately more of the same ideas that have gotten the region nowhere over the past 50 government-initiative-filled years.
The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development has decided to provide some ideas of its own. MACED will release one new strategy brief a week through October 6 at this location. There are five briefs in all, each highlighting a specific sector: Entrepreneurship, Energy, Local Foods, Forestry and Investment. Each brief will outline the current opportunities that exist for each sector. They will then discuss real and tangible ways in which each sector could be better supported by individuals and local, state and federal governments.
Those five sectors in particular are key to ensuring eastern Kentucky’s economy becomes successful, sustainable and is put in a much better position to thrive well into the future.
They can help us reach a brighter future in eastern Kentucky, a future aimed at an ambitious vision that rests on a set of principles that can help shape how community and economic development strategies are implemented in the region: Create good, diverse and stable jobs and income opportunities; enable meaningful public participation and broad access to benefits; protect and preserve our natural world – water, forests, land and air quality; build from our assets; and, respect our past, people and places.
MACED’s first brief, “Support Entrepreneurship,” is already available. You’ll have to follow the link to read the full paper, but here’s a brief excerpt:
Appalachia has had limited success in creating long-term employment through industrial recruitment; however, supporting new and existing entrepreneurs has significant potential. A study of ten cities found that 48 percent of money spend at independent businesses recirculates in communities, as opposed to just 13.6 percent of money spent at national chains. This “multiplier effect” supports other local businesses, workers and community projects. Per capita income grows faster when there are more locally owned businesses in a community, rather than out-of-state, large businesses. Additionally, locally owned businesses are more likely to plant roots and stay in a community for the long-term. They contribute to the uniqueness and vibrancy of a town, making it more attractive to residents and visitors.
The remaining briefs will be published every Monday. Visit us, and MACED, to keep up to date on these new releases.