PRESTONSBURG, KY — Eastern Kentucky communities will soon have a chance to apply for grants of up to $250,000 each to support work on broadband expansion, job creation and more. Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a homegrown movement in Eastern Kentucky focused on economic development, approved funding criteria and an application process for the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD), which was created by the state legislature with a $2 million appropriation during its 2015 session. This seed money will support efforts that include broadband deployment along with job creation and retention, entrepreneurship and tourism, workforce training, leadership development, health and wellness, infrastructure and/or economic diversity.
“We’re excited to see what our communities are doing to impact important community challenges like job growth and leadership training,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “Successful local initiatives can be replicated, and KARD grants are a good chance for the region to see what’s working.”
KARD will be administered through the Department for Local Government. Organizations physically present in the region, such as non-profits, entities designated to represent SOAR, and counties or cities, may apply for these funds. Priority will be given to projects that present the greatest likelihood of regional economic impact. Other criteria include:
- The unemployment level in each community where the project will be located;
- The likelihood that the project will generate future revenue for the community or Commonwealth;
- The number of new jobs and the wages to be paid;
- How much will the project benefit the economies and communities of multiple jurisdictions;
- Whether there is a funding match from the community, foundations or private sector;
- The likelihood of sustainable economic success;
- The inclusion of a strategy related to the KentuckyWired project and technology as an economic driver;
- The level of partnerships across geographies and sectors; and
- The economic impact of the downturn of the coal industry in those communities.
Organizations meeting the above criteria can apply online at www.soar-ky.org. The first round of applications are due Dec. 18. The maximum grant amount is $250,000.