SOMERSET, KY – Four Southeast Kentucky economic development organizations are better positioned today to market their communities and tell their unique stories, thanks to key state and regional partnerships and federal funding.
Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. (SKED) worked with the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG) to apply for and receive a $125,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant to fund a project to help improve the branding and marketing of the economic development organizations across the region.
The year-long project focused on working with economic development leaders to rethink their branding and work with a marketing team to create a forward-thinking vision to provide everything an organization needs to share its story, attract new businesses, and better meet its mission.
Communities receiving the funding and contributing their own matching funds include the Southern Kentucky Economic Development Agency, The Rockcastle County Industrial Development Authority, The Morehead-Rowan County Economic Development Council, and The Ashland Alliance/EastPark Industrial Development Center.
All four organizations debuted their updated websites this fall.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin said this funding gave each community the resources needed to compete with other larger communities across the region.
“We at ARC are dedicated to ensuring that our partners have the tools needed to fulfill their roles as critical partners in boosting the economic vitality of the communities they serve,” Manchin said. “This initiative will not only enhance the organizations’ communications with other colleagues but will aid in the long-term revitalization of these growing Eastern Kentucky communities.”
Kentucky DLG Commissioner Dennis Keene said the project is a great opportunity to improve economic growth in the region.
“For us to continue to move Eastern Kentucky forward we must think outside the box, and work collaboratively in our efforts,” Keene said. “This grant is the foundation of the efforts of the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation to move the region forward. By thinking regionally we have a greater opportunity to bring prosperity and economic growth to the area. I want to thank the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation for their continued support in the region, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and seeing the new opportunities that come from this collaboration.”
Fifth District Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers calls the project another positive step forward in attracting and encouraging growth in the region.
“With more access to broadband than ever before and efforts to expand fiber even further, Southern and Eastern Kentucky is ready for new high tech businesses and growing our e-commerce. These new websites will help define availability in our industrial parks, incentives for businesses and areas that are shovel-ready for growth and expansion,” said Congressman Rogers, who launched SKED in 1986. “We have the best workforce in the country, and now employers can easily find the vast resources that we have available for new industries in our beautiful region.”
SKED Executive Director Brett Traver says small, regional economic development organizations simply do not always have the funding to sell themselves and compete on a bigger stage. The goal of this funding is to give them an extra edge.
“All of these economic development organizations have made significant investments in
economic development resources such as industrial parks and buildings through the years,” he explained. “However, the funding for brand, website, and collateral development has not been available. DLG and ARC recognized that and provided funding to make it happen. At the end of the project, the organizations have a design that amplifies their reach and a messaging strategy that drives action.”
The grant was awarded to SKED in late 2020, which led to a region-wide Request for Proposals effort. The Marketing Team at The Center for Rural Development was selected to lead the re-design projects. Following an initial branding session for each and months of web design, logo, and marketing material creation, the communities’ new marketing materials and website were revealed in October.
Morehead Chamber of Commerce Director Jason Slone is currently leading the Morehead-Rowan County Economic Development Council, while a new executive director is being sought. Slone said the opportunity to update and improve its current website, better blend and improve the multifaceted organization’s message and amplify its work was a no-brainer for him when the project began in early 2021.
Slone said the project has been a productive one for the community.
“This project has been an amazing journey, and the staff had been tremendous to work with,” Slone said. “The creation of the website and new branding will allow us to market and promote ourselves in a global economy. We are excited this project is nearing completion, and we are excited at the possibilities this new website and brand can bring our community.”
Following are links to new websites for each of the communities served by the project:
To learn more about how SKED helps Southern and Eastern Kentucky businesses and communities do business better, check out other success stories at www.skedcorp.com.