In 2013, the EDA Board of Directors began to reorganize the way we approach projects. We are involved in so many aspects of community improvement that it becomes difficult to stay organized. With this in mind, a system of core projects has been implemented. While management continues to oversee the day-to-day responsibilities of the organization, individual board members are taking the lead on a core project about which they are passionate. No more than 10 core projects can be active at any given time, and as one is completed or no longer a priority, it can be replaced with another. Each core project will have its own project plan, and those will be available by clicking the project title below as they are completed and approved by the Board. All core projects fall into the 3 categories of Live, Work and Lead.
LIVE - QUALITY OF LIFE
River City Players and the Mack Theater (Teresa Dawes) - River City Players was formed in late Spring of 2013 and is an operating division of EDA. They have two main missions. First is to operate a fully functional community theater group, complete with productions, to expose the people of Estill County to performing arts as well as give them the opportunity to participate in them. The second is to purchase and renovate the Mack Theater on Main Street in Irvine. The Mack operated for nearly 60 years and now sits vacant. RCP wishes to see the building return to its former glory as a performance venue, meeting space and welcome center.
Trails Network (Wallace Taylor) - Our community is beautiful, without a doubt, but we are not taking full advantage of the recreational opportunities our natural assets have offered us. Four main courses of action lie within this project. First, we are involved in the Lee, Estill, Wolfe & Powell (LEWP) Multi-County Recreation Board, whose mission is to obtain a lease-to-purchase agreement on a 3,000 acre tract of land at the intersection of those four counties for use as a multi-modal trail park. Second, we are involved in the application process to earn designation for Irvine and Ravenna as a certified Trail Town. Third, we are working with the Kentucky Riverkeeper and the Kentucky River Authority to further develop our 40+ miles of river for recreational activities. Finally, we are reaching out to private property owners in hopes to establishing a network of trails all over the county for all kinds of riders to enjoy.
WORK - WORKFORCE & COMMERCE DEVELOPMENT
BAAT Squad (Jennie Haymond) - The Business Assistance, Acceleration & Transition Squad is the purest economic development arm of EDA. The BAAT Squad is leading the Board in choosing target sectors of business and industry that, based on data and observations, would be a good "fit" for our community. They then identify target firms to fill that need, whether they be prospective entrepreneurs, current businesses that could expand, or existing firms outside of our community that may want to open another location. The ultimate goal, obviously, is to see more businesses open and economic leakages filled, but the process is just as important as the end goal. Having community leaders regularly meeting with business owners, both within our county and elsewhere, only builds our reputation as a business-friendly community.
Estill County Chamber of Commerce (Mike Collins) - The Chamber is an operating division of EDA and operates much like chambers one will find all over the country. We provide training opportunities, arrange networking events, and organize and participate in community events such as the July 4th fireworks and most recently Revive River Drive. A major component in our chamber is a regional buy local, think local movement called Eastern Kentucky Local Motive, which is housed in EDA. Local Motive provides public education and business education about the importance of keeping money close to home.
Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board (Wayne Linscott) - Finding new ways to prepare our workforce for the available jobs of tomorrow is of great importance. Wayne's participation with BGWIB is opening new doors for our community by making previously unknown resources available to the people of the community.
LEAD - YOUTH AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Leadership LEAP Program (Kathy Samples) - Leadership Learn, Empower, Attain, Progress (LEAP) began in 2010 as Leadership Estill County and was funded by an ARC Flex-E grant through Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College. After a successful first year, our friends in Lee and Powell Counties were interested in doing their own program. After some discussion, it was decided that pooling resources and creating a regional program made more sense for the future of all our counties. Now, with participation from Estill, Lee, Powell, Jackson, Owsley & Wolfe Counties, this regional initiative is going strong. An operating division of EDA, LEAP highlights the assets and challenges of our entire region and provides leadership skill development, networking opportunities and team-building activities to people from different communities who may have not otherwise ever met.
Junior EDA Board (Mark Reese) - Our young people are our community's most valuable resource. It only makes sense to invite our youngest stakeholders to be an active part of the discussion as the EDA Board sets its vision for the future. Regular meetings with the Executive Director and at least quarterly meetings with the full Board will ensure that these future community leaders will have their voices heard.
Community Candidates Forum (Teresa Dawes) - In an effort to better inform the voters of Irvine, Ravenna & Estill County and hopefully to increase civic engagement, EDA will be hosting a candidates’ forum before the November election. An unbiased third party moderator will be brought in from outside our community, and practical questions will be asked of candidates so the public may be more educated about candidates’ views and plans for the future.
Community Visioning (Ian Mooers) - EDA exists for the benefit of the people of Irvine, Ravenna and Estill County, so regular input and feedback is necessary for the Board to be able to make informed decisions. A visioning process is an excellent way to gather the people's wishes for the future. A stakeholders’ group is being invited to better inform the process, and two university researchers, several graduate students, and at least one undergraduate class from EKU will be assisting us in data collection and holding community meetings. The goal is to collect the wishes of the people about future community projects and priorities to better inform decision-makers throughout our entire community.