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Summit to focus on jobs, schools

Tri-State government and community leaders will attend the federally-sponsored Appalachian Summit this week in Kentucky and West Virginia, looking for yet another way to redevelop the area’s stressed economy.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Tri-State government and community leaders will attend the federally-sponsored Appalachian Summit this week in Kentucky and West Virginia, looking for yet another way to redevelop the area’s stressed economy.

"We’re interested in whatever initiative they have," Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Pat Clonch said. "It sounds like the (national) attention we’re getting will be beneficial."

The Lawrence County area has already benefited from a federal $100 million Empowerment Zone grant relationship with Huntington, W.Va. A summit on planning Appalachia’s future can only add to what’s on the road ahead, Mrs. Clonch said.

"A strategy for a long-term plan is important," she said. "I can only imagine what would happen if we all work together to put together one long-range strategic plan and work on it."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is organizing the summit as a follow-up conference to a four-day tour last month by President Clinton through poor areas of the country. Clinton called for public and private investment in areas that have been left out of the nation’s booming economy.

”Government cannot do this alone, but business cannot be expected to go it alone,” Clinton said then.

The conference – which convenes Thursday in Ashland, Ky., and wraps up Friday in Huntington, W.Va. – will include HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo as well as the secretaries of transportation, labor and agriculture, and the governors of West Virginia and Kentucky.

Lawrence County chamber representatives and other southern Ohio leaders plan to attend, Mrs. Clonch said.

Educating others about poverty-stricken areas of Appalachia and developing new partnerships with the public are the conference’s goals, said Cuomo in a telephone interview this week.

"Appalachia, because of its location did not develop as quickly as other parts of this nation," he said. "Now that we have new business looking for employees and businesses that are more mobile than before because of technology, Appalachia isn’t as far away."

In other words, Appalachian areas like Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and southern Ohio can benefit from the recent strengthening of the economy by seeking government and private investment to "make up for decades of reduced progress," Cuomo said.

At the summit, participants will hear the governors’ ideas about making that happen, and will have an opportunity to submit their own ideas.

Registration begins 8 a.m. Thursday, with the opening session at 10 a.m. Speakers include Cuomo and Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton. A presentation will be given by Appalachian Regional Commission federal co-chairman Jess White entitled "The Appalachian Region: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities."

Friday, the summit convenes in Huntington at 8 a.m. Keynote speaker will be Gov. Cecil Underwood.

Panel discussions on a variety of economic topics will be held each day.

For more information, contact HUD’s Community Connections office at 1-800-998-9999.