Gov. Beshear Awards $394,000 to Attract Private Investment in Eastern Kentucky

DLG - 09/07/2022

Gov. Beshear Awards $394,000 to Attract Private Investment in Eastern Kentucky
The funds establish a full-time economic development director position serving 5 counties, for at least three years.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (September 7, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) received a $394,483 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

These funds establish a full-time regional economic development director to serve Jackson, Clay, Lee, Owsley and Leslie counties, and to lead the FOCUS Group, which consists of business leaders committed to furthering economic progress in those five counties. The new director, announced by SKED today, is William Tal Jones. Jones will help attract private investment as well as maintain and expand existing businesses. The goals of this new position include creating 100 new jobs and generating $10 million in new investment in southeast Kentucky.

The funding for this project will cover the contractual and personnel expenses of the new director over the next three years. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources are providing $98,621, bringing the total project funding to $493,104.

“Establishing this position brings someone to our FOCUS counties who is entirely dedicated to attracting investment to the area,” Gov. Beshear said. “This will build on the great work already being done by the folks there.”

“I would like to thank the FOCUS volunteer board of representatives from Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Owsley counties for placing their confidence in me as its new economic development director,” Director Jones said. “I am confident and excited to encourage the growth and expansion of existing businesses and the location of new business in this region.”

There are several partners on this project including SKED, the FOCUS Group and Jackson Energy. The new director is a SKED employee, and office space is provided by Jackson Energy Cooperative.

“This is a great opportunity to leverage the expertise at SKED to help create opportunities in the Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Owsley Counties,” SKED Executive Director Brett Traver said. “The FOCUS Group has done a good job of laying the groundwork for the work going forward.”

“The FOCUS Group is excited for this amazing opportunity. The ARC Economic Development grant offers an opportunity for the FOCUS region to better market itself for new industry attraction and business retention,” April Renner, chair of the FOCUS Group, said. “This grant will significantly benefit Jackson, Clay, Lee, Owsley and Leslie and our neighboring region in eastern Kentucky by providing an economic development boost for businesses and help strengthen our local economy. We are thankful for the support of our collaborative efforts and these investments in eastern Kentucky.”

About the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation
SKED is a non-profit economic development organization formed in 1986 to create employment opportunities in a 45-county service area in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. It accomplishes this mission by recruiting new businesses, making direct loans, providing entrepreneurial training and technical assistance to businesses and providing economic development services to local communities. Since its creation, SKED has secured loans and grants totaling more than $30 million, providing funding for over 450 businesses, which in turn have created more than 9,500 jobs throughout the region.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia and help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. More information is available at


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