PLI: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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June 11, 2018
Patton Leadership Institute (PLI) met on Thursday, May 10th for a session on entrepreneurship and innovation. This month’s speakers enlightened the class on current efforts to create a thriving and competitive economy in Southeast Kentucky. 
Dr. Sherry Zylka, Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) president, welcomed PLI to  BSCTC Mayo Campus in Paintsville.
Joshua Ball, associate executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), discussed the importance of proving there are opportunities and hope for the future of Appalachia. 
Ball referred the class to and stated that “if we want a future for Appalachia, we have to get the word out to the multitude”.  He shared SOAR’s Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia and explained the focus areas: regional food systems, regional tourism development, industrial development, healthy communities, small business in the digital economy, broadband infrastructure expansion, and a 21st century work force. 
Dr. David Snow, Kentucky Innovation Network (KIN)-Pikeville Office director, described what KIN has been doing to help business in our region.  From the beginning of this year through early May, KIN has worked with 52 clients to help them maximize their business potential. KIN helps individuals develop a business plan, start a business, work on skill development, and create a network of business contacts.  They also focus on youth engagement and collegiate success by helping students prepare for entrepreneurship competitions which includes KIN’s annual competition. 
 The next speaker, Coach Phillip Haywood, Belfry High School’s head football coach, spoke to the class about maximizing their potential. Coach Haywood has spent 42 years coaching both on and off the field. He is Kentucky’s all-time winningest high school football coach with over 420 career victories. 
“To be a leader, you must grow yourself first and then help grow the people around you,” Haywood encouraged everyone to step out of their comfort zone and take a chance on themselves. He directed the class to invest at least ten minutes a day into self-improvement. 
The day wrapped up with American Metal Works (AMW) co-founders James Glass and Denny Rohrer. AMW trains their employees in programing, coding, and running Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machinery to create custom, detailed parts for their customers. After discussing what the business does and how the experience and skill sets of eastern Kentucky have molded AMW, Glass and Rohrer took the class on a tour of their facility to show how the equipment and technology work together to create a finished product. 
The next PLI session will focus on regional tourism.