Appalachian Regional Commission Awards $1.23 Million to One East Kentucky

29 Sep 2020

Press Release

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – Opportunity East Kentucky is One East Kentucky (OEK)’s comprehensive initiative for diversifying Appalachian Kentucky’s post-coal economy. This initiative will build on OEK’s success-driven economic development strategy for Appalachian Kentucky. Established in 2015 as eastern Kentucky’s first-ever 100-percent privately funded regional economic development organization, OEK has announced over $150 million in private investment and over 1,000 jobs created by both new targeted industry location projects and existing industry expansion projects over the last four years.

“By diversifying and expanding Eastern Kentucky’s economy, we’re investing in a better and brighter future for all of our families,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Opportunity East Kentucky will continue to help find and build the next generation of Kentucky companies, and in doing so, they will create the next generation of jobs for our people.”

Opportunity East Kentucky project activities align with the ARC’s strategic investment goal for economic opportunities: investing in entrepreneurial and business development strategies that strengthen Appalachia’s economy. Over the next three years, $1.23 million will be put to work ensuring the momentum established by One East Kentucky’s first five years of economic development work across the region continues to build.

"We are diligently working to diversify our economy in Eastern Kentucky by recruiting new industry leaders to the mountains where they can find the best workforce in the country, along with competitive resources," said Congressman Hal Rogers. "I applaud One East Kentucky for actively searching for businesses that have the potential to thrive in our region. Thanks to their tireless efforts, we are seeing job growth in several counties, despite unprecedented challenges related to the coronavirus.”

“Eastern Kentucky’s skilled workforce is ready to thrive, and I was proud to help deliver this investment for its future,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “As the only congressional leader not from New York or California, I’m constantly looking out for Middle America and Kentucky in particular. Encouraging development and job growth across the region can support local families and build a stronger Kentucky. Through Chuck Sexton’s leadership and One East Kentucky’s innovative approach, Appalachia can take advantage of its great potential.”

In addition to supporting the further development of One East Kentucky’s targeted industry recruitment pipeline, ultimately resulting in the location of new manufacturing operations in the region, this project will allow OEK to establish a robust, never-before-implemented, business retention and expansion program based on economic development best practices for the region that specifically focuses on industry growing activities like hiring a dedicated existing industry liaison and working with the region’s utility providers, county and city governments, economic and industrial development organizations and authorities, and other economic development partners across the region to ensure existing business needs are being met and opportunities for job-creation expansion projects and the exportation of goods are explored. Opportunity East Kentucky will also allow OEK to further encourage and support the region’s industrial development efforts via the EKY BUILDS program.

“Our organization has been built to attract jobs and investment into the coalfields and that mission will be greatly strengthened due to this grant award from ARC. The funding will be utilized within our recruitment of new industry, community strategy support, industrial park preparation, and to build out a robust business retention and expansion program to spur job creation,” said One East Kentucky President and CEO Chuck Sexton. “The OEK board of directors and I would like to thank Congressman Rogers, Senator McConnell, Governor Beshear and ARC co-chair Tim Thomas as well as the phenomenal work of our staff member Ivy Stanley and the team at Kentucky’s Department of Local Government for their diligence in ensuring our activities have a greater opportunity to achieve results for the people of East Kentucky.”

ARC will measure Opportunity East Kentucky’s success by the amount of private capital investment leveraged and the number of new jobs created by manufacturers and other targeted industries over the next three years. This project will impact the following 12 eastern Kentucky counties: Perry, Knott, Floyd, Letcher, Pike, Martin, Johnson, Magoffin, Lawrence, Harlan, Breathitt and Leslie.

For more information about One East Kentucky, please contact One East Kentucky President and CEO Chuck Sexton at or 606-886-7333.