EKCEP, Teleworks USA Join with SOAR as Regional Blueprint Partner; New Initiative Aimed to Network Those Building a 21st Century Appalachia

Both the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc. and its Teleworks USA initiative have joined the Blueprint Partnership program at Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR).

By joining the Blueprint Partnership program, EKCEP has formally committed towards implementing SOAR’s Regional Blueprint to build a 21st Century Appalachia.

“There are many organizations, businesses, and people doing incredible work in Appalachia Kentucky,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “By joining the Blueprint Partnership program, they are part of a collaborative effort to implement our Regional Blueprint across Appalachia Kentucky. We can’t do this alone.  Our partners are critical in building the 21st century Appalachia we so desire.”

EKCEP is the workforce development organization for 23 Eastern Kentucky counties. The agency administers employment and career services for adults and youth, and assists area employers in finding and preparing workers to fit their needs.

Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies. Teleworks USA’s team of eight expert Teleworks Hub Managers also help prepare people for the jobs by upskilling them in customer service and technical support workshops, helping them craft strong résumés and hone their interviewing skills, and assisting them in applying for available remote-work positions they can work within their homes or the eight Teleworks Hubs.

EKCEP is proud to work alongside SOAR in implementing the Regional Blueprint, which is a strategic plan that was created in 2016 to align the passion of people with tangible goals to transform Appalachia Kentucky.

“Collaboration is one of EKCEP’s core values, and we believe that if Eastern Kentucky is to succeed in developing a stronger and more diverse regional economy, it will be because of partnerships like this,” said Jeff Whitehead, EKCEP executive director. “SOAR’s regional blueprint reflects many of our own beliefs, and we’re very happy to be able to join with them in building a better Eastern Kentucky.” 

SOAR’s Regional Blueprint has seven goals:

  • Increase the availability of affordable, high-speed broadband, through fiber, to businesses and residents; and increase adoption rates throughout the SOAR region;
  • Develop our regional workforce to be competitive in the digital economy and emerging industries;
  • To create more and expand existing small businesses within the region by taking full advantage of the digital economy;
  • To reduce the physical and economic impact of obesity, diabetes and substance abuse;
  • Increase the amount of industrial employment, which includes manufacturing, natural resources, processing, and distribution by expanding existing companies and attracting new ones;
  • Create a local foods movement by connecting local producers to markets for their product both within and outside the region; and
  • Establish Kentucky’s Appalachian region as a tourism destination.

The Blueprint Partnership program is open to any organization, business or individual who believes in a 21st Century Appalachia, said Arnett.

“This is about building a movement that will take root and transform the region,” added Arnett. “The challenges we face are great, but the potential to collaborate with our partners around our Regional Blueprint is greater.”

Benefits of the Blueprint Partnership program include:

  • Opportunity to serve on SOAR Advisory Board(s)
  • Discounts for SOAR-related events
  • Access to specialized communications and updates
  • Increased access to resource partners

SOAR is requesting a minimal annual financial contribution to become a Blueprint Partner.  Those funds will be used for operating expenses and to help implement the Regional Blueprint goals across Appalachia Kentucky.  The contributions are $50 annually for businesses and $10 annually for individuals.  Individuals and businesses can apply for a contribution waiver, and they will be evaluated by SOAR staff. 

To register or learn more about the Blueprint Partnership program, visit www.soar-ky.org/partner or call (606) 766-1160.

EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.