Hazard High School on the right track to encourage student innovation and ideas

 When considering Eastern Kentucky, entrepreneurship is not often the first economic driver which comes to mind.

Of course, coal is the primary thing most people see when they look at our region.

However, for people to dismiss the entrepreneurial spirit which exists here would be a mistake, and sometimes a costly one.

For generations, Eastern Kentucky was an isolated area, both culturally and geographically. 

The roads were not of a quality which allowed a great deal of economic or cultural exchange with areas even relatively nearby. The changes over the past few decades to concentrate funding and effort to opening Eastern Kentucky up has changed that significantly, making Eastern Kentucky a near central location to several larger communities, opening up opportunity and exchange.

The advent of the Internet age is only a few decades old, but has also had a great impact on opening this area up, offering both an expansion of culture and information, but also offering opportunity for telecommunication jobs and other programs.

Before these changes came about, however, the people of Eastern Kentucky often were confronted with issues and problems that required, especially with a lack of outside input, unique solutions. And, as the exchange of information and economic know-who began increasing decades ago, those outside the area found out something surprising — that those solutions were often worth using as standards.

The recent naming of Hazard High School “America’s Entrepreneurial School” is good on several different levels. We applaud the school and its leadership for taking on the various programs and initiatives which led to the naming. The honor is appreciated, but it’s not the main positive to come out of this. 

The main positive is that it helps us to be confident that local schools are focusing their attention on encouraging students to take the innovative spirit which we know exists here and to channel it into outlets that will potentially make a positive economic impact on the community and in the lives of the students.

In a post-coal economy, unique solutions are not only needed, but vital, to ensuring a sustainable economy. Perry County doesn’t need just quick fixes. Our economy needs cures — long-term, lasting solutions. That will not just come from outside businesses coming into the community, but also local people driving small and medium-sized businesses to become an economic force.

While the immediate, short-term economic benefits of expanded entrepreneurship locally are a plus, and needed in the current economy, there’s a greater reason to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at such a young age and beyond — our future.

The students in our elementary schools and high schools have locked inside them the ideas which will drive our county, state and nation into the future. We must, at every opportunity, encourage them to develop and be confident in those ideas, as well as teach them how to make those ideas become realities.

Their future, and our future, depends on it.

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