A new effort is being launched to better promote the agricultural economy of 37 eastern Kentucky counties. State and federal officials were on hand Monday in Knott County to announce the trademarked brand “Appalachia Proud: Mountains of Potential.”
Knott County Tourism Director Shawn Owens says there are many facets to this economic campaign. “They also announced an Appalachian Wildlife Foundation is looking to develop around a nine million dollar facility here in eastern Kentucky promoting elk and it will have an observatory for stars and it will have basically an amphitheater to do shows and a research center that they will use for wildlife here in eastern Kentucky,” said Owens.
The recommendations released this week include executing a comprehensive marketing strategy to battle inaccurate stereotypes and grow the ag economy. They also suggest helping universities develop niche products that can succeed in eastern Kentucky. Since eastern Kentucky has seen a sizable loss of coal jobs in recent years, Knott County Tourism Director Shawn Owens says the region can’t stick with a coal-only approach. “Until we can get the regulations eased up and we can go back to do full production, then we’ve got to find an alternative resources and our folks have come to the conclusion that if we can’t have our coal business back, we’ve got to get another economy in here to be able to be able to sustain and keep our people here,” added Owens.Owens says a new state and federal partnership could mean over 80 million dollars for Knott County alone over a ten year period.