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Press Release

Creative placemaking can be used to stimulate economies, including those in Eastern Kentucky, says Cleveland Fed community development advisor

The decline of the coal industry and loss of thousands of mining jobs creates a need for a new economic direction for eastern Kentucky. One option is through “creative placemaking,” in which partners from disparate sectors use the arts and cultural activities to strategically shape the character of a region or neighborhood. In the second of a four-part series focusing on eastern Kentucky, Bonnie Blankenship, a regional community development advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, looks at the economic impact of creative placemaking and highlights two of the region’s creative assets: Berea College and Appalshop.

“Creative placemaking is a significant economic development tool and can be highly transformative for a region in terms of income generation and job creation,” says Blankenship. In 2012, the production of arts and culture employed 4.7 million workers in the United States and contributed more than $698 billion to the US economy, according to the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account. The Kentucky Arts Council estimates that Kentucky’s creative industry provides 60,000 direct jobs — providing more employment than the state’s bioscience and auto and aircraft manufacturing industries.

Blankenship highlights two creative placemaking initiatives in eastern Kentucky:

  • Using a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Berea College is working on a project to map out areas of rural Kentucky where a creative culture may be used to help create economic development. The eight counties the college is focusing on have an overall poverty rate of 30 percent.
  • Appalshop, in Letcher County, Kentucky, is a hub of filmaking in Appalachia that has branched out to include theater, recordings, photography, multimedia, and books.

To find out more, read From Coal to Craft: Eastern Kentucky’s Changing Economy, in Forefront, the Cleveland Fed’s showcase of policy ideas.

If you missed part 1 in our series, see Eastern Kentucky: A Region in Flux.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.218.1892