One East Kentucky Selects Colby Kirk as next President/CEO

One East Kentucky Selects Colby Kirk as next President/CEO Main Photo

14 Oct 2022

For Immediate Release

October 14, 2022 – Paintsville, KY

One East Kentucky has selected Colby Kirk as its new President/CEO, effective October 31, 2022. Kirk, who is currently serving as Martin County’s Judge/Executive will be resigning from that role to succeed Chuck Sexton, who served as President/CEO since 2015.

“After an extensive search, we found a local leader who possesses the unique skills and experience to succeed in this challenging position,” said Mark Gooch, Board Chairman of One East Kentucky and President & CEO of Community Trust Bancorp, Inc. “Colby is a smart, strategic leader who has demonstrated his commitment to East Kentucky on a personal and professional level. He is also a strong collaborator who can unite public officials and private businesses within our region and help us advance our mission of bringing new jobs to East Kentucky. We are thrilled to welcome him to the team.”

One East Kentucky has established itself as a leading economic development organization in the state and the southeastern United States, assisting communities, organizations, and industrial authorities with strategic planning and plan implementation to support future growth throughout the region. Kirk will be taking the helm of the organization and the robust pipeline of economic development projects.

“This is an exciting time to step into the leadership role of such an impactful organization,” said Kirk. “One East Kentucky is working to tackle our region’s most pressing need, recruiting new and diverse job opportunities. I look forward to building on the momentum Chuck Sexton created in this role and further strengthening the ties between our local businesses, government, and nonprofit leaders, so we can work together to create new opportunities for East Kentucky’s future.”

“The Board of Directors are excited to welcome Colby back to One East Kentucky in this leadership role,” said James Ayers, a One East Kentucky Board Member and Regional Retail and Relationship Manager for First State Bank of the Bluegrass. Ayers chaired the search committee for the next President/CEO. “Colby has done tremendous work throughout his career, as project manager for this organization working under Chuck Sexton, then as Director of One Harlan County, and most recently as Martin County Judge/Executive. His passion for economic development, his vision for the organization, and his commitment to our region made a deep impression on the Board.”

Former President/CEO of One East Kentucky and current CEO of The Next Move Group, Chuck Sexton praised the Board’s selection.

“I look forward to seeing Colby continue his career and impact on the mountains as the next President/CEO of One East Kentucky.  His familiarity with the organization and its strategic direction is a major positive for the region.  One East Kentucky will be in excellent hands.”

About One East Kentucky:

Established in 2015 as East Kentucky’s Center of Economic Development Excellence, One East Kentucky is a 501(c)3 regional economic development organization responsible for spearheading the growth and diversification of eastern Kentucky’s economic base through recruiting new industry, jobs and investment to the heart of Appalachia. Since 2016, One East Kentucky has announced over 1,000 new jobs and $154.6 million in capital investment. For more information about One East Kentucky, the nine-county region, industrial properties, workforce development, incentives, or other economic development resources, visit Follow One East Kentucky at, on Twitter @OneEastKY and LinkedIn.