PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) and its team of Business and Innovation Champions have assisted 75 small businesses access resources from federal, state, and local resources.
SOAR’s Business and Innovation team includes Director Ryan Jones and Champions (Tal Jones, Colby Fugate, Jeffery Justice, Sabrina McWhorter, and Lauren Blankenship) stationed throughout Appalachia Kentucky. Since mid-March when the COVID-19 virus began to spread across the Commonwealth, SOAR’s entire team have been working remotely and leveraging technology to remain engaged with small businesses across the region.
“Many of our businesses have expressed interest in the Payroll Protection Program and Small Business Administration Disaster Loans,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR.
“We are working closely with our partners, specifically the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, MACED (Mountain Association for Community Economic Development), SKED (Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation), and the Kentucky Highlands investment Corporation, to provide guidance and support through this process. We have also helped several businesses apply for small grants being provided through the Foundation for Appalachia Kentucky, Invest 606, and CEDIK (Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky) through the University of Kentucky.”
SOAR’s work to support small business and entrepreneurs is made possible by the support of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship.
In addition to providing direct support to small businesses and entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic, SOAR has launched Business as UNusual, a campaign to provide additional
Support to those in business adjusting to the new normal. The campaign offers weekly free virtual convenings on topics of interest, such as social media, digital marketing, leveraging YouTube, navigating Kentucky’s new unemployment insurance program, and providing safe workplaces in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and prevention guidelines.
The webpage also features stories of businesses adjusting and adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As tough as things seem now, and they are tough, we know that this is temporary,” added Arnett. “Our focus is to support our small business community and to provide resources for companies to greater leverage technology and the digital economy to better weather a situation if one were to arise again in the future.”