Some eastern Kentucky leaders spent the day with southwest Virginia leaders at the Central Appalachian Leadership Forum at the Breaks Interstate Park.
The group says they want to work together to solve common problems.
The two groups of leaders say they have a lot in common.
They say eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia have similar problems that they're looking for solutions to.
They mapped them out and discussed how to solve them together.
Big Sandy officials have new partners to improve Eastern Kentucky, but the help is actually in another state. They're Virginia leaders.
“If we're going to develop the Central Appalachian area, we got to do it through cooperation, so forget about the border,” Pike County Judge Executive, Wayne T. Rutherford said.
The groups say Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia are similar and share the same problems.
“We have middle class families who can't afford to send their kids to college. We have people that can't afford healthcare when they work everyday. We have people struggling to make ends meet,” Senator Ray Jones said.
Officials say the two regions also share a drug problem, increasing high school drop out rates, and the same mountainous roads - all topics discussed at the Central Appalachian Leadership Forum.
“We're both looking for the same thing. I think it's real instrumental that we work together,” Hilman Dotson said.
The leaders plan to work as one to build new roads and use more of the region's natural resources like coal and gas to create jobs and bring more money to Appalachia.
They want to build more whitewater rafting on the shared waterways, and build new trail systems between the two states.
They hope working together will improve life for everyone in Appalachia.
The two sets of leaders are planning more meetings in the future, but they're already getting some of the tourism projects rolling now.