Summit seeks solutions for struggling coal region’s economy

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Coal Ash

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Community leaders are meeting in a Kentucky region hurt by the collapsing coal industry, seeking to help redevelop the area economy.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Wednesday that Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, is convening its fifth annual summit this week in Pikeville. SOAR officials say the group’s role is to organize projects and gather political and business leaders to discuss solutions for Eastern Kentucky’s problems.

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Among the summit’s objectives are increasing broadband connectivity, facilitating workforce training, supporting business opportunities and reducing health concerns including obesity and drug abuse.

SOAR’s executive board Chairwoman Kimberly McCann says high-speed internet is vital for Appalachian Kentucky’s future.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers says SOAR’s initiative is making a difference although progress on diversifying Eastern Kentucky’s economy hasn’t come as quickly as he would’ve liked.