LONDON — In just 18 months, more than $200 million in funding has been identified for projects in Kentucky’s Promise Zone of Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox and part of Whitley counties.
The funds come from a combination of federal grants, private foundations, federal loans, private investments and other sources of money from outside the Promise Zone.
“We have now identified more than $200 million coming to the Promise Zone over the next five to seven years,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation. “It is all due to the hard work of our partners and community leaders who have devoted their resources, time and expertise to leveraging this tool.”
KHIC is coordinating and managing the process, but there are 55 Promise Zone partners — ranging from the private sector to local governments to nonprofit organizations. USDA is the lead implementing federal agency for the Kentucky Promise Zone.
“USDA Rural Development was designated as the lead federal agency for the rural and tribal Promise Zones, and we are proud of the success brought about through the partnership of Kentucky Highlands as well as local, state and federal leaders across the region,” said Tom Fern, State Director for Rural Development. “This achievement is due to the collaborative efforts of all the Promise Zone Partners reaching into specific areas targeted by the initiative.”
Investments already are being made in areas such as education; medical facilities; college and career readiness; online information technology degree and certificate programs; workforce training; health and anti-drug initiatives; and housing and energy-efficiency projects. Some highlights include:
Almost $20 million from USDA for a pilot project to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants find jobs and ultimately work toward self-sufficiency.
$30 million in private investment by Keeneland Racing Association to build Thunder Gap on the Corbin Bypass. It is expected to create about 2,000 jobs and $10 million in tax revenues over the next five years with 100 to 150 permanent jobs.
More than $44 million in grants for education projects that support a college-going culture and mental health initiatives.
An announcement that Kowa Kentucky, Inc. will open a facility in Corbin to manufacture surface treatment for automotive suppliers and create 30 jobs. It is the first North American plant for Kowa and the first Japanese company to locate in the Promise Zone.
Co-investment from the state and federal governments in local companies such as Phillips Diversified, which is headquartered in Manchester. KHIC completed two loans last year with Phillips Diversified —one loan in partnership with the Economic Development Cabinet and the other with USDA to create about 40 jobs.
Almost $1 million for the Looney Creek Trail from a combination of Department of Transportation and Frazier Foundation funds.
In January 2014, President Obama identified Eastern Kentucky as one of the first five, and the first rural, Promise Zone communities. The Promise Zone Initiative empowers federal agencies to partner with local communities and businesses in creating jobs, increasing economic security, expanding educational opportunities, building private investment and improving public safety.
Learn more at http://www.kypromisezone.com/ and participating in one of the annual listening sessions or periodic visits being held in each county.