Ready Workforce

east kentucky works

We know that one of the most critical needs for businesses is a skilled workforce. Eastern Kentucky has the talent your business needs to thrive. Determined, dedicated and innovative, our region’s workforce possesses an incredible work ethic and valuable skills.  However, that is only opinion unless the data proves it true.  Thus, One East Kentucky  partnered with multiple agencies across the region as well as Boyette Strategic Advisors to conduct an in-depth analysis of our workforce. Specific information about the One East Kentucky regional workforce can be found on our LABOR page.  The full study is available below.

East Kentucky Works Full Study


East Kentucky Workforce Study Begins

Multiple agencies partner for detailed labor analysis

Prestonsburg, KY. December 3, 2015– Multiple economic development, educational and workforce related agencies are partnering to commission an in-depth analysis of east Kentucky’s robust labor pool.  They gathered today at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg to announce the kickoff of a 27-county workforce study.

“When it comes to recruiting new investment from companies across the United States as well as internationally, we must have the data to support our claim that East Kentucky has the best available workforce in the country”, said Chuck Sexton, CEO of One East Kentucky.

As the eastern Kentucky region’s primary industry, coal, has continued to decline with layoffs, closures and company relocations, regionalism as well as partnerships have become more important than ever to diversify the economy.  New agencies, such as SOAR and One East Kentucky, have developed to both prepare the region for investment as well as find the companies willing to make those investments.  Existing agencies, such as EKCEP and Ashland Alliance, are doubling-down on their strategies to aggressively assist the unemployed and prepare them for new jobs.

“EKCEP has many services already available to those impacted by layoffs, like H.O.M.E. (Hiring Our Miners Everyday) but our strategy toward economic diversification matches that of One East Kentucky, SOAR, Ashland Alliance and AEP,” added Jeff Whitehead, executive director of EKCEP.  “Although we all have separate roles in diversifying eastern Kentucky’s economy, our goals are aligned. Thus the importance of all of us working together, pooling resources and collaborating to achieve the desired results we all seek.”

The partnership group hired Boyette Strategic Advisors (BSA) to complete the 27 county study.  Led by founder Del Boyette, a seasoned economic development professional, the team will take several months to study east Kentucky’s workforce based on sub-regions.  Several strategies will be implemented during the study, including sub-regional public forums, reaching out to unemployed workers, analyzing national databases and interviewing existing employers to understand the quantity and quality of the area’s workforce.

“I’m very familiar with BSA’s work around the country, and we are fortunate to have their expertise and passion for east Kentucky in this process,” said Brad Hall of AEP Kentucky Power.  “Our company has invested heavily in economic development within the area over the past few years, and we are very pleased to see these strategies paying off in the form of regional cooperation.”

Higher education institutions Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Morehead State University and Eastern Kentucky University see the immense value that this information holds as well.

“The statistics being provided through this study will assist us in developing our training and educational programs which help unemployed workers transition to new jobs, such as the recent fiber optic training program,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.  “Education, workforce, economic and community development are all essential to economic diversification.  We are excited that this region is now working together like so many other successful regions across the country do, thanks in large part to the leadership of SOAR.”

Over the next four months, BSA will seek input around the region, and the partnership group asks the public to be prepared to assist in the process.

Jared Arnett, Executive Director of SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) concluded, “The workforce study is another step in the right direction for Appalachia.  It is a large piece of the puzzle that builds a foundation for success over the coming years.  Results will not happen overnight, but they will never be achieved if we fail to work together regionally and engage the public in the process.  We want the entire area to see this as what it is, an organized effort that links like-minded groups of people to gather the appropriate information for us to be successful.  I encourage everyone to be engaged in the process and assist us in this effort.”