In 2017, the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) launched a three year, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant as part of the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. This grant funded a Downtown Revitalization Project in Kentucky’s eight Promise Zone counties. These eight counties are Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley. Within these counties twelve downtowns signed up to be a part of this project.

Within the broad scope of this downtown revitalization project, CEDIK offered a wide range of programs and technical assistance, along with networking opportunities to address the unique challenges each community faces in regards to their respective downtowns. Every community was able to select services to best meet their needs. CEDIK also facilitated quarterly convenings to allow participating communities to share ideas, strategies and information vital to successful revitalization efforts in the region. Communities that participated in this project were then able to access grant money to fund projects in their downtowns in order to successfully move from a planning phase into direct action.

In early 2014 the Southeast Kentucky Promise Zone received its federal distinction, and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation asked CEDIK to conduct a strategic planning effort in the eight county region. The effort included community forums for youth and adults in each county. The county public forums held informed the Promise Zone’s regional strategic plan. This downtown revitalization project proposed to intersect with the Southeast Kentucky Promise Zone strategic plan in the following ways: collaborative partnerships, multi-jurisdictional project impact, and economic and workforce development integration.