Broadband, Industrial Prospects Discussed at SOAR Summit

Aug 4, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

Hundreds of people gathered Friday in Pikeville's East Kentucky Expo Center for the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit.  

They heard status reports on topics ranging from high tech greenhouse plans to aerospace manufacturing and workforce training expansion.

As in past gatherings,  participants at this SOAR Summit heard from Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin.  Both of them spoke of momentum in redefining local Appalachian economies. 

Broadband wiring is critical to that effort.  Phillip Brown, director of the Kentucky Communications Network Authority says easement access remains a challenge.

"That doesn’t mean we want to take away land from anybody.  We want to hang a fiber sheath, like the one in this picture which is about a half inch thick on poles that are already there, that already have fiber or copper line hanging on them,” said Brown.

Brown says the broadband deployment will involve door-to-door outreach. 

Governor Matt Bevin used the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit today as an opportunity to talk about an advanced manufacturing prospect considering locating in Kentucky.  

The governor told hundreds gathered in downtown Pikeville, it’s a battery business that would bring 500 to 600 jobs to the state.

“They would have a production facility here in Pikeville.  This may not happen, but it’s increasingly possible and I would dare say even likely that it might,” Bevin noted.

Bevin says an executive team from the company was in Pikeville Friday.

He says, if the firm chooses to come to Kentucky, another administrative office would likely locate in Lexington.

This was the fourth SOAR Summit with representatives from more than 50 counties involved in the effort to redefine local Appalachian economies.​