PRESTONSBURG – It’s been three months since I became president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC).
And I’m not sure my feet have hit the ground since my wife, Judy, and I arrived in Eastern Kentucky.
That’s fine with us, because we know there’s a lot of work to do, and we’re ready.
The resurgence of our region will not come from one particular area or sector, it will come from a spirit of unification and collaboration that blurs county and municipal boundaries that have held us back.
At BSCTC our mission is to advance excellence and innovation, enhance opportunities, improve the quality of life, promote cultural assimilation, and strengthen our region for a bright and prosperous future.
And we are doing just that.
In the last three months, we have forged a strategic partnership with SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region). Through the non-partisan work of Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear, we have a strategic plan to diversify the entire region. However, as Congressman Rogers often says “You have to plan your work and work your plan.”
Again, we’re on board.
The Kentucky Information Highway, known as the I-Highway, will soon break ground. Pipelines of dark fiber will open our communities to opportunities like we’ve never seen before. For the first time, our region will stand on the right side of the digital divide and use that leverage to attract business and industry and promote entrepreneurship.
Dark fiber means a bright future.
Last month, our Workforce Solutions division launched Eastern Kentucky’s first Certified Fiber Optics training program. With the help of BDI DataLync, we are now able to offer certifications in the following areas: Certified Fiber Optics Technician, Certified Fiber Optics Specialist in Testing and Maintenance and Certified Fiber Optics Specialist in Splicing.
The creation of this program correlates with SOAR’s plan for our region to be connected. If we hope to accomplish this, we have to have a skilled workforce. That’s why we have trainings scheduled each month throughout the year.
Collaboration was at the heart of this initiative as the University of Pikeville and the East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) helped to make this dream a reality.
When it comes to large-scale plans, such as that laid out with SOAR, you have to have not only unification of government, but a coordinated effort to attract business and industry.
Enter One East Kentucky.
A privately funded, non-profit organization and partnership of local governments, chambers of commerce, industrial authorities, area development districts and private industry, One East Kentucky aims to recruit new industry, jobs and investment to the region.
We believe a collective voice representing the region provides greater leverage of resources, and that’s why we’ve allowed One East Kentucky to be headquartered on our Prestonsburg campus.
I want to be at the table when it comes to jobs and investments in our region, and I pledge to you a college that will be responsive to the needs of business and industry.
To realize the success we all want requires partnerships, passion and pride in our community. We believe that it is really not important who gets the credit – the important thing is that we forge ahead in a spirit of unity for a common goal and then celebrate the accomplishments together.
The best way to predict our future is to create it.
Now, let’s do it. Let’s grow together!
Dr. Devin Stephenson is President of Big Sandy Community and Technical College