Accomplishments

 

Since its founding in 2015, Letcher County Culture Hub partners have:

•Founded and incubated three new businesses:

o Mountain Tech Media, a cooperatively-owned tech and media corporation housed at Appalshop, currently employing two full-time and numerous part-time workers.

o Community Agricultural and Nutritional Enterprises, a food production and education corporation housed at the old Whitesburg High School, founded through a collaboration between Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, the Letcher County Farmers’ Market, and the Letcher County Extension Office, set to employ at least four full-time workers in 2018.

o Hemphill Catering Company, housed at the Hemphill Community Center, currently employing and training several part-time workers from one of our hardest-hit areas.

•Supported the expansion of existing local businesses and social enterprises: 

o The Downtown Retail Association has supported several festivals and civic initiatives to bring business opportunities to Whitesburg. 

o Ongoing energy-efficiency initiatives, in partnership with our regional Community Development Financial Institution and local and regional solar energy businesses, will reduce energy costs and bring additional revenue to many area enterprises. 

o Culture Hub partners are leading the Letcher County Broadband Board, currently working on a multimillion-dollar project to incubate a municipal Internet Service Provider and bring broadband Internet to the entire county. 

o The Culture Hub promotes tourism and events through a monthly flyer and a county-wide website. 

o The Culture Hub is partnering with PolicyLink and the Central Appalachian Network to develop an agenda for policy and advocacy to support culture-driven enterprise. 

•Created opportunities to turn skills into revenue-generating activity:

o Filmmakers, photographers, musicians, web designers, technicians, programmers, and other media makers working at Appalshop and Mountain Tech Media.

o Chefs and cooks, and unemployed chefs and cooks in training, working contracts for the Hemphill Catering Company.

o Artists selling their work across the region through EpiCentre Arts.

o Theater directors, designers, and technicians working on plays produced by Roadside Theater, the Appalachian Media Institute, Cowan Community Center, the Blackey Improvement Committee, and the Little Shepherd Amphitheatre.

o Square and hip-hop dance instructors working in the public schools through a collaboration between Appalshop and the Letcher County Rec Center, and for events produced by the Carcassonne and Cowan Community Centers and the Kings Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

o Teachers and artists working events at the Letcher County Public Libraries.

o Storytellers, visual and performing artists financed by regional health organizations to work on the EKY HEAL project.

o Farmers, growers, food producers, artists, and musicians selling work at the Letcher County Farmers’ Market.

   During the 2016 season, the Market:
   -generated over $10,000 in income for some individual growers
   -employed local musicians to perform each week
   -created a permanent vendor slot for artists
   -generated revenue on some Saturdays exceeding the revenue of its entire 2013 season.


•Revived two major cultural institutions, which are now revenue-positive:


o The Carcassonne Square Dance, the oldest-running square dance in the state of Kentucky, now operating at one to two dances per month and drawing visitors from several states.

o The Kings Creek Bluegrass Festival, a collaboration among several county volunteer fire departments, revived in 2016 for the first time since the 1980s, which grossed over $10,000 in its first year. 


•Shared stories in public venues that present examples of people, organizations, and communities in the region developing alternative and sustainable economic models—toward the goal of widening communities’ understandings about what is possible—including several stories on Culture Hub partners and activity. These stories have been shared:


o At various film screenings, performances, conferences, and workshops. 

o Through several original plays about the past and future of the county.

o As local, regional, and national news stories, including on WMMT-FM radio.