The state of Kentucky is now part of a new federal program designed to improve the economics of impoverished communities. The Commonwealth joins West Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana as the newest partners in the U-S Department of Agriculture’s Strike-Force Initiative.
U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement during a WYMT-TV webcast from Pine Mountain State Park.
“Identify your priorities. We will determine within our broad array of programs, what might be helpful, and then we will partner with you and walk with you, essentially through the process to a successful conclusion. This is a situation Mr. chairman, where success is guaranteed. It’s not iffy, it’s not maybe. We’re gonna get you what you need from USDA,” said Vilsack.
Vilsack says the Strike-Force Initiative has already provided ten-billion dollars in loans and grants to 16 states. Congressman Hal Rogers believes eastern Kentuckians are ready to move forward.
“I’ve seen such response, heart felt response from eastern Kentuckians, who love this place who stepped forward and said ‘count me in, sign me up, tell me what to do,’ it’s just been a heart warming experience, and we just got started,” said Rogers.
Governor Steve Beshear also participated in the announcement in Bell County. He says Eastern Kentuckians realize they’ll need to carry their fair share of the burden.
“The people of eastern Kentucky know that in the end, if we are going to diversify this economy, if we’re going to make long term changes, that will move this region forward, they’re gonna have to make it. You’re gonna have to make it. You’re gonna have to provide the leadership,” explained Beshear.
Vilsack, meanwhile, says the key is federal-local collaboration. He says it involves partnering with community organizations, businesses, foundations, and universities.