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Press Release

Appalshop provides important tools for economic growth 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 third of a four-part series focusing on eastern Kentucky, Bonnie Blankenship, a regional community development advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, takes a closer look at Appalshop, an organization that is not only preserving the region’s heritage but also contributing to its economic growth.

Appalshop is located in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a town of approximately 2,100 situated in the heart of the Appalachians. Through media training, storytelling, cultural events, and the preservation of Appalachian traditions, Appalshop has drawn attention to the Whitesburg area, says Blankenship, bringing new residents, businesses, and investment.

For example, going back to its workforce development roots, Appalshop recently began providing a one-year certificate program in media production in partnership with the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. According to Blankenship, the project seeks to fill the technology and media skills gap identified by employers in the region.

“Appalshop looks at ways to shift the conversation, moving from a community supported by extractive resources to one supported by creative placemaking,” says Blankenship.

To learn more about Appalshop, read Through the Lens of Change, in Forefront, the Cleveland Fed’s showcase of policy ideas.

And check out parts 1 and 2 in our series: Eastern Kentucky: A Region in Flux and From Coal to Craft: Eastern Kentucky’s Changing Economy.

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