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SOAR gains $1.3 million in investments, launches CDC Health Impact Series

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Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers joined the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Executive Committee to announce Monday (July 7) new investments into the region and new partnerships.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams announced an investment of $312,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to provide technical assistance in the formation and implementation for the SOAR initiative for job creation and private sector growth in the region.

“EDA is pleased to support the collaborative SOAR initiative,” said Williams. “This vital EDA assistance will help SOAR in its mission to help eastern Kentucky capitalize on its strengths to diversify, innovate and implement job-creating diversification strategies.”

The EDA investment will support implementation and technical assistance by a consortium of nine Area Development Districts located in the region.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), announced an investment of more than $1 million to engage 52 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to improve the economy and quality of life in eastern Kentucky.

Through this investment, AmeriCorps VISTA members will provide more than 100,000 volunteer hours to Eastern Kentucky families and individuals in the areas of job creation and retention, youth engagement, education success, and health and human services over the next year. The VISTAs will recruit and manage volunteers, raise funds, and build the capacity of 16 local nonprofit and education organizations that tackle poverty and expand opportunity in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

“SOAR is a bold and innovative effort to improve the lives of the people of eastern Kentucky, and we are thrilled to join with Congressman Rogers and Gov. Beshear in advancing this important goal through this major investment of human capital through AmeriCorps,” said Spencer. “AmeriCorps members are passionate, dedicated citizens who give a year of their lives to service, and we know they will make a big difference for eastern Kentucky.”

Gov. Beshear announced he will promote eastern Kentucky during his upcoming attendance at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Opportunity Investment Conference in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Rogers announced SOAR will host a “Health Impact Series” in August featuring Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tour marks the first time that the Director of the CDC has visited eastern Kentucky.

The SOAR Health Impact Series is free and open to the public.

 Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Center for Rural Development;

 Aug. 5 at 10 a.m. at the Hazard Community and Technical College;

Aug. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Ramada Paintsville Hotel & Convention Center;

Aug. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Morehead Conference Center.

Space is limited for the SOAR Health Impact Series, but individuals can reserve a seat by contacting Cheryl Keaton at 606-657-3218 or at

For more information contact the SOAR office at 606-444-5127 or 606-437-5127.



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