Two Eastern Kentucky University campuses have been designated regional workspaces by Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), a bipartisan initiative headed by Gov. Steve Beshear and Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers.
The Corbin and Manchester EKU campuses were designated after an offer from the University, one of SOAR’s regional partners. The workspaces will accommodate the needs of SOAR administrative employees as they conduct business throughout the region.
SOAR aims to expand job creation; enhance regional opportunity, innovation and identity; improve quality of life and support all those working to achieve these goals in Appalachian Kentucky.
SOAR Executive Director Jared Arnett expressed his gratitude for the partnership, and said the additional offer of the workspaces will be beneficial for those working in or near the Corbin and Manchester campuses.
“I am excited about the regional partnership between SOAR and EKU,” Arnett said. “The regional workspaces in Corbin and Manchester will be extremely convenient as our staff, partners and volunteers continue to work throughout the region. This will greatly improve our ability to support our partners throughout the entire SOAR region.”
The workspaces will be used for members of SOAR’s working groups or committees to hold meetings or conduct business in the Corbin or Manchester area.
“EKU Corbin Campus is very excited to be a SOAR partner,” said Sandra Stevens, EKU Corbin campus director. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to fully support the SOAR initiatives any way that we can. Nearly all of our students in EKU’s south region are from counties included in the SOAR target area, so this partnership will enable us to better meet both the needs of our students and our communities.”
“Being a SOAR regional partner exemplifies EKU’s commitment to the region and our efforts to bring more opportunities to the people and communities of eastern Kentucky,” Gray said. “I can think of no other project in my tenure with EKU and in my lifetime that has the potential to help so many of those who are struggling and looking for a beacon of hope. SOAR and EKU can be that beacon for generations to come. Our campus is committed to supporting SOAR’s goals and committed to supporting the region.”
EKU president Michael Benson said he was optimistic about the change he believes SOAR will bring to the region.
“Ever since it was established in 1906 to prepare schoolteachers, Eastern Kentucky University has had a long and proud history of service to the region,” President Benson said. “It’s only natural that our Corbin and Manchester campuses serve as regional partners and valuable workspaces for SOAR, which I believe is on the cusp of bringing significant and lasting change to the region. As I often say about our own university, the best is yet to come for eastern Kentucky.”
David McFaddin, executive director of engagement and regional stewardship at EKU, voiced the goals of the partnership.
“It is truly a privilege to have SOAR regional workspaces located at our campus locations in Corbin and Manchester,” McFaddin said. “These workspaces provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders throughout Appalachian Kentucky to work with SOAR leadership members, local leaders and other concerned individuals at locations that are spread throughout the region. Our primary goal through this partnership is to expand the reach, influence and overall impact of the SOAR initiative through strategic partnerships like this one.”