The Center for Rural Development

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September 22, 2020


The Center for Rural Development partners with our three affiliate organizations to better serve the needs of Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Each affiliate organization, regardless of its specific focus and tactics, has an eye toward economic development and life improvement that broadens The Center’s base and increases its services.

The Center is dedicated to working cooperatively with these affiliates and state and federal organizations to maximize benefits to the region and meet its core mission goal: to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

These affiliates include:


PRIDE Personal Responsibility in a Desirable EnvironmentPRIDE (Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment) volunteers are making a difference in their home communities and working together to transform Southern and Eastern Kentucky. From the hills and hollers of Appalachian Kentucky to the shores of Lake Cumberland, volunteers are picking up roadside litter, cleaning up illegal dumps, and helping to keep Kentucky’s rivers and streams free of household trash.

In addition, PRIDE is teaching students and the region’s next generation of leaders how to be good stewards of the environment.

The PRIDE initiative was launched in 1997 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and the late General James Bickford, former secretary of the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. Their vision was to restore the natural beauty of Southern and Eastern Kentucky by encouraging citizens to take responsibility for protecting their environment and by providing the education and resources to do so.

The PRIDE initiative is coordinated by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, a nonprofit organization based on the grounds of The Center in Somerset. PRIDE serves 38 counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

To learn more about PRIDE, visit


SKED Southeast Kentucky Economic DevelopmentThe Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) is a non-profit economic development organization formed in 1986 serving 45 counties in Southeast Kentucky. SKED works directly with individual companies, their consultants and advisors to provide a wide range of services, including site selection assistance, incentive and business tax information, business financing, business advice and training, key contacts in business and local government, demographic, wage and economic data, navigation through local government requirements, and access to workforce training and recruitment resources

SKED was designated as a Certified Development Corporation (CDC) by the U.S. Small Business Administration. This designation authorizes SKED to process SBA 504 loans throughout the state of Kentucky. The 504 Loan Program is SBA’s economic development tool to provide small business financing and create jobs all across America.

SKED, located at The Center in Somerset, focuses its business service resources primarily on companies in the manufacturing sector, or high growth business sectors. However, through a regional network of economic development partners, SKED is able to help most companies find assistance for their relocation or expansion projects.

To learn more about SKED, visit

Operation UNITE

Operation UNITEOperation UNITE—which stands for Unlawful, Narcotics, Investigation, Treatment, and Education—serves 29 counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The region-wide grant program focuses on three main tasks: creating regional drug task forces for interdiction, confiscation, and undercover operations; organizing local citizens’ groups and coordinating drug treatment programs; and working with educators to expand drug awareness and education programs.

Operation UNITE was launched in April of 2003 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY) in response to a special report, “Prescription for Pain,” published by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper during January and February 2003. This series of articles exposed the addiction and corruption associated with drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky, which largely included Rogers’ Fifth Congressional District.

The non-profit organization, located on the grounds of The Center in Somerset, works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE’s goal is to educate and activate individuals by developing and empowering community coalitions to no longer accept or tolerate the drug culture.

To learn more about Operation UNITE, visit

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