Appalachian Kentucky: Community Collaboration and Connection

Kentucky is known for its horse racing, bourbon, and bluegrass music. It should also be acknowledged for its association with coal mining, and the steps Appalachian Kentucky has taken to move away from this industry into a more diversified, resilient, and thriving economy. How are these communities accomplishing this major shift? A key element is community collaboration and connection. We identified three Kentucky-based organizations which are proving to be exemplary and instrumental in bringing together communities, pooling funds from the grassroots level to invest in new entrepreneurship and a more diverse economy, and helping facilitate connections between job seekers and employers in order to share new work opportunities. These organizations have shown that intentional connection and collaboration is key when developing an economy. Bill Vanderwall, executive director with the housing advocacy organization MN Housing Partnership believes this kind of communication is critical.  As he notes,

“interconnection between economic development work and communities is a circular thing… [when] thinking about the Iron Range, [these things are] needed” (Bill Vanderwall, Minnesota Housing Partnership).

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