Eight counties and 216,000 people strong - that was the message Wednesday morning in Pikeville as officials announced the newly created Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Officials unveiled a new Chamber that will represent the entire region.
“We can come together as a population of 216,000 people,” Brad Hall said.
The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, made up of Pike, Lawrence, Magoffin, Martin, Johnson, Knott and Letcher Counties, wipes out county lines when it comes to business.
“The more we work in unity in eastern Kentucky, the more we can get accomplished,” Hall said.
The idea is to boost the economy and decrease the average ten percent unemployment rate.
“Very capable people that can do a lot of different things and we haven't had an opportunity to do that, so we feel like being able to work together as a region would enable to get a lot more opportunity,” Danny VanHoose said.
Officials plan to recruit new industries not related to coal, and new retail stores and restaurants.
Business leaders say helping recruit new industries here will turn into more dollars for all businesses in the region.
“Whether you're in the car industry or home industry or whatever, you need people to have the money to do those things and that comes from jobs,” VanHoose said.
They believe it will mean more jobs.
“We're always looking to broaden the employment base in Martin County, but having the regional chamber will also help us expand existing businesses and industry as well,” Martin County Economic Director, Christi Brown, said.
The Southeast Kentucky Chamber will also work as a liaison between businesses and state legislators.
Any business that wants to become a member of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce can call 1-877-738-4400.
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