Interapt’s TEKY facility in Paintsville, KY, was the site of a roundtable discussion about promoting economic diversity in Appalachia through collaboration and partnerships to support a next-generation technology workforce.  

The roundtable included state and federal leaders, as well as experts in technology and workforce development, who talked about the need to skill up rural communities in Eastern Kentucky and beyond to make their tech workers competitive with tech talent from anywhere in the world. The event took place on March 13th, 2017 at the Mayo Campus of Big Sandy Community & Technical College.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-5)

Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5)

 

The event was co-hosted by Interapt and Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5) and KY Governor Matt Bevin, and included Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17), whose district represents the heart of Silicon Valley. Congressman Hal Rogers spoke of the grit and work ethic of Eastern Kentuckians, something Rogers is certain “beats anywhere else in the country” and will drive the growth of what he calls "Silicon Holler."

KY Gov. Matt Bevin

KY Governor Matt Bevin

 

Governor Bevin spoke of the need for hard work and patience to achieve sustainable results, and challenged local residents and leaders to “be the roar” to signify the resilience and aggressive growth of Kentucky’s labor force.  He talked about his own humble beginnings and how it instilled a work ethic in him that he sees reflected in citizens of Eastern Kentucky.

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17)

 

Congressman Khanna talked about why Silicon Valley should pay attention to “Silicon Holler” and engage with its newly-trained tech workforce. He talked about the similarities he had observed between Silicon Valley and Eastern Kentucky, namely “collaboration and people willing to take risks and dream big.”  He promised to return and speak with tech leaders in his district about potential collaboration with tech companies in Appalachia.

Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith

3rd U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith

 

Other featured guests included Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of ARC; Ankur Gopal, CEO of Interapt; and Megan Smith, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer.  All spoke briefly before the roundtable about the unique opportunities within Appalachia, and how enough work, vision, and collaboration could flip the region’s historical struggles into a new workforce success story in the near future.

Renee Shaw from KET

KET's Renee Shaw leads a roundtable discussion at Monday's event.

 

After some opening remarks, KET’s Renee Shaw began a roundtable discussion that included:

  • KY Governor Matt Bevin
  • Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5)
  • Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17)
  • Megan Smith, Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer
  • Earl Gohl, Federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Terry Gill, Sec. of KY Cabinet for Economic Development
  • Rodney Hitch, Corporate Economic Development, EKPC
  • Derrick Ramsay, Sec. of KY Labor Cabinet
  • Sally Smyth, Director of Community Finance and Impact, Opportunity@Work
  • Jeff Whitehead, EKCEP Executive Director
  • Jared Arnett, SOAR Executive Director
  • Eric Daimler, The Robotics Hub and Coal Hill Ventures
  • K. Ryan Burke, Co-founder of TechHire
  • Rusty Justice, Co-founder of BitSource
  • Ankur Gopal, Interapt CEO

 

Co-founder of TechHire K. Ryan Burke

Co-founder of TechHire, Ryan Burke, speaks during the roundtable.

 

The roundtable discussion touched on major workforce issues being tackled locally by public-private partnerships like TEKY and state agencies like EKCEP, and nationally through agencies like ARC and federal programs like TechHire.  Participants emphasized the need for public economic development agencies to engage the private sector and keep them involved with workforce development initiatives that relied on their support, but also overcoming the practical challenges of skilling up rural and isolated regions that may be struggling in the modern, digital economy.

TechHire Eastern Kentucky Event

Guests tour Interapt's TEKY facility.

 

Since TEKY has become a case study on how public-private partnerships could spin up technology ecosystems in other pockets of Appalachia, event hosts and guests then toured Interapt’s TEKY facility and met recent graduates of the inaugural cohort who are currently completing internships that will prepare them for full-time work as digital coders.  TEKY interns both demonstrated the Interapt technology and products they have been learning and working with, and even showed off a new app they had already built themselves from the ground up.

Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal

Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal speaks at Monday's roundtable event.

 

“As I’ve traveled and met tech leaders in Silicon Valley, D.C., New York, and around the world, I’ve had an opportunity not only to talk about new ideas for creating tech ecosystems in rural and remote regions that need it, but also to explain what we are actually doing in Eastern Kentucky with TEKY,” said Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal. “I invited these leaders to our roundtable to show them how it can actually work. We can take this model and apply it to virtually any community, and with the right support and collaboration we can transform any workforce into tech talent that meets the demands and business needs of the new digital economy.”

 

Find out more about our TEKY Program or supporting our efforts through the Interapt Foundation >>

 

Highlight Video

 

Additional Media Coverage: