A work group of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Initiative, or SOAR, held a listening session in Richmond Tuesday evening. A group of 20 people gathered on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University.
Lexington marketing executive Phil Osborne served as facilitator for the session sponsored by SOAR’s Tourism, Arts and Heritage Work Group. Osborne asked those in attendance to share their ideas about opportunities and challenges for tourism in eastern Kentucky and their potential for economic development.
Alice Jones of EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship commented that couples and families visiting the region are going to need a variety of options, "I guarantee you that if we're stuck at a fishing cabin somewhere, there's at least one steakhouse in your county that's going to get our business."
Meeting facilitator Phil Osborne says, following the June and July listening sessions, the ten work groups will review what they heard. "What we'll do at the end of the process is coordinate our findings, identify any overlapping opportunities that exist because that's where those places intersect, where we'll have the easiest quickest impact."
Osborne says the SOAR group will continue to solicit input from people throughout the region on where they see tourism heading in the next five to 20 years. In August, the groups will each identify three to five priorities as next steps for the SOAR Initiative.