Business and government leaders in eight Southeast Kentucky counties continue to pool their economic recruitment resources. Members of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce met Monday in Prestonsburg. Chamber President Jared Arnett says a multi-county approach to industrial development offers opportunities. “So, each one of these counties is promoting the assets they have. So, if you’re promoting an industrial park, but don’t have all the other pieces that are important to go along with that, it’s really a struggle in recruiting companies. So, our goal is to really fill up these industrial parks to look at small manufacturing,” said Arnett.
Eastern Kentucky has been known for its coal mining for well over a hundred years. In recent years more tourism dollars have also come to Appalachian communities. But, Arnett says there remains a significant emphasis on other industrial clients.
“We’ve got stories of success. We’ve got multiple manufacturers here. Some are aligned with the coal industry making man-trip cars and things of that nature and shipping them to India and China. We’ve got a local entrepreneur that’s doing that with 30 to 40 employees. We also have a Kellogg’s plant here that has about 300 employees that makes a third of the nation’s pop tarts,” added Arnett.
When considering all eight southeast Kentucky counties, Arnett says they offer a university, medical school, regional airports, and four lane highways. He says there are industrial parks in Letcher and Martin counties. In addition to Letcher and Martin, the Southeast Kentucky Chamber includes Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Magoffin, and Pike Counties.