The next step in the SOAR process happened last week at the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation annual conference when the SOAR working group committees met for the first time.
The 10 working group committees are tasked with “leading large-scale discussions throughout eastern Kentucky on topics related to the region‟s economic future and quality of life,” and include Agriculture, Community and Regional Foods, Leadership Development and Youth Engagement, Broadband, Business Incubation, Business Recruitment, Education and Retraining, Health, Infrastructure, Regional Collaboration and Identity, and Tourism, Natural Resources, Arts and Heritage. All group meetings are open to the public, and an undetermined number of these meetings will take place throughout the summer. Each group is made up of a 15-person committee that is supposed to determine three to five recommendations about their topic to send to the SOAR executive committee for their consideration. As it was described during the working group meetings, the executive committee will make decisions about which if these recommendations to possibly fund. These recommendations are to be in the hands of the executive committee by August of this year. There were many eastern Kentuckians at the EKLF meeting to attend the working group meetings, and we were told this was the largest EKLF meeting in many years as a result. It’s exciting and encouraging that so many are concerned enough about the future of the region to attend meetings such as these. We just hope that excitement lasts through summer as the working groups continue to meet.
We also hope the committees actively spread the word about when meetings will take place, and that they have their meetings at times when the highest number of eastern Kentuckians can attend – after work hours, or on weekends.
We were told at the EKLF SOAR working group meetings that this process is intended to be as transparent as possible. We just hope it stays that way – for the sake of it’s success, and the sake of making the best possible recommendations for the region’s future.
Photo of downtown Somerset by flickr user J. Stephen Conn. Used under Creative Commons license.