Would-be entrepreneurs in rural Kentucky may soon receive federal start-up funds. Acting Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Doug O'Brien, made the announcement Wednesday in eastern Kentucky.
O'Brien said his agency is granting $500,000 to the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation. The funds will be used for micro-loans to help aspiring businesspersons in 19 rural Kentucky counties. O'Brien said starting a business in eastern Kentucky is no easy feat. "It is a complicated effort that you need to think about payroll. You need to think about inventory. You need to think about just the budget and depending upon what type of business you're in, you need to think about the regulatory environment," said O'Brien.
The University of Pikeville, meanwhile, will receive federal assistance to help establish a college of optometry. O'Brien visited the eastern Kentucky school Wednesday.
O'Brien said a $40 million federal loan will help UPike provide much needed services to the people of eastern Kentucky.
"What their plan is in the very near future to start a school of optometry. In fact, there are very few schools of optometry; in fact, there's essentially none that focus on providing access to that type of medical service for rural people," added O'Brien.
O'Brien says federal officials are supportive of the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region" or SOAR initiative. He says it's particularly positive when people in the affected area really "own" the process.