I applaud Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers for the bipartisan effort that resulted in the creation of the Shaping our Appalachian Region (SOAR) program in 2013. The SOAR program
was created to establish a network of productivity and innovation to address the most pressing problems in East Kentucky. I will be attending the SOAR Strategy Summit in Pikeville on Monday, May 11, to support SOAR in its mission of expanding job creation, enhancing regional opportunity, innovation, and identity, and improving quality of life.
I agree with Governor Beshear’s statement at the first SOAR press conference in 2013, “Eastern Kentucky is a brilliant, storied region that enriches the fabric of our Commonwealth, yet for several decades, the region has seen a decline in growth and development, hampered by a lack of infrastructure and other resources that communities need to grow and thrive. We know that government alone cannot solve these problems and we believe that to make real progress in Eastern Kentucky, we need the input, collaboration and involvement of the people who live and work hard there every day.”
Several working groups have been tasked with innovation and growth for this region and are led by prominent business and community leaders. These target SOAR groups include agriculture, community and regional foods, natural resources, broadband, business incubation, business recruitment, education and retraining, health, infrastructure, leadership development and youth engagement, regional collaboration and identity, tourism and arts & heritage. This collaboration of community leaders offers a blueprint for future statewide initiatives that put people before politics. The SOAR program proves that fostering innovation and cooperation will lead to real achievement and growth.
Big news is coming next week regarding our investigation into gas prices in Kentucky. I believe Marathon Oil has a lock on the wholesale market in Kentucky, which leads to gas prices being higher in our state than other states in the region. I have twice asked the Federal Trade Commission and I have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to take action. I am tired of waiting on the federal government to take action. Stay tuned next week for a major announcement that will affect hundreds of thousands of people across the Commonwealth.
Finally, I’m looking forward to enjoying Mother’s Day with two important women in my life - my wife, Elizabeth and my mother, Barbara. I cannot thank them enough for their endless love and support. I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the company of your loved ones this weekend as well. Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers and grandmothers in our great Commonwealth of Kentucky.