TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

June 24, 2014

Curd named Promise Zone program coordinator

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Corbin resident Sandi Curd received some good news this week — she has officially been named program coordinator for the federally-designated Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone.

It was learned in January that Corbin was one of four designees nationwide to receive a chunk of $250,000 in grant funds.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded technical assistance and implementation support through the $250,000 Livable Communities program.

And Curd knows it will be a challenge.

“Out of the five national Promise Zones announced in January, we are the only rural one,” she said. “We are the largest geographically, with 150 miles separating our most eastern city of Whitesburg and our most western city of Williamsburg.”

Curd will manage the implementation of the Promise Zone strategic plan; serve as the liaison between the Promise Zone communities and KHIC, which is the administrator for the Promise Zone; work with the implementing partners; and coordinate activities with the SOAR and USDA Strike Force initiatives as well as state and local government efforts.

“We have more judge executives, more magistrates and more mayors than any other Promise Zone,” Curd explained. “A round trip through the zone can take all of six hours — some might think this makes our job impossible. 

“I think it will just make our success sweeter.”

Curd has 25 years of experience in the fields of health care and agriculture. She also is a consultant to Leadership Tri-County and president of the Whitley County Farmers’ Market board of directors. Curd has a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in health-care administration from the University of Minnesota.

“Sandi has the experience, skills and knowledge of the region that will help guide the input and effort from the entire community into a sustainable strategy for the future,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC.

Curd knows the Promise Zone program is necessary in Kentucky.

“The Promise Zone could not have come at a more critical time in Southeastern Kentucky’s history, with over 7,500 coal jobs lost in the last three years,” Curd said. “Kentucky Highlands Investment Company has managed an empowerment zone for more than 20 years.”

She also seems ready to get to work with her colleagues.

“All the individuals who made our empowerment zone the most successful in the country are still in place,” Curd said. “These folks are set to take the lessons learned and apply them on a regional level with the promise zone — I am so proud to be a part of this team.”

Funding assistance for management of the Promise Zone has been provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Kentucky Department of Local Government and the Kentucky Office of the Governor.

“The Promise Zone is filled with individuals who know how to leverage our future for the better,” Curd said. “We need to introduce them to resources, help them navigate around obstacles and then stand aside to applaud their success.”

“I am thrilled to be given this opportunity to serve.”

In January, part of Whitley County, as well as Knox, Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie and Clay counties, were awarded one of only five national Promise Zone designations as a result of a successful application from KHIC and several community partners.

Information on the Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone can be found at www.kypromisezone.com.

The initiative will give the region a competitive advantage in applying for federal grants as well as assistance from various federal agencies which oversee housing, education, economic development, agriculture and safety. Those agencies also will provide increased coordination to help the counties maximize federal and private investment.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, founded in 1968 to stimulate economic growth in nine counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, serves 22 counties in the region.

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