New Risk Takers Design a Post-Coal Economy
[imgbelt img= minerarm320.jpg]Residents of Eastern Kentucky, united in their love of the region, are
divided in their visions of its economic future. Kelli Haywood looks and listens — and works — with strong allegiance to both sides.
[imgcontainer left] [img:parlorroom320.jpg] [source]Kelli HaywoodEntrepreneurs like John Haywood are taking a risk, but these days the Appalachian coal economy is risky business, too. Haywood, shown here at the office of The Parlor Room, was discouraged from working in the mines by his grandfather.
I asked my dad whether he believed, if the coal industry completely dissolved, the region would recover economically. His answer wasn’t comforting:
“No, and here is why. Eastern Kentucky has no infrastructure to support any heavy industry, nor light industry for that matter. Rail systems have sold track lines and rights of way. Freight lines on highways would create tremendous traffic problems and air pollution from diesel exhaust. There are no natural tourism attractions which would entice outsiders to visit, let alone spend money. You have some nice views, but attractions, none. Tourism could not flourish; it also has no infrastructure.”
In the face of this, stands the revival of Whitesburg’s Main Street. Somehow hope resides there, and in other areas of the region.