As we watch the demise of the coal industry, the time has finally come to move on to a new generation of prosperity, a generation of prosperity which will no longer depend on coal, but instead, a generation of prosperity which will be fueled through our rich heritage of hard working, talented, skilled coal miners who have contributed to the success of the mountains for generations.
Consider for a moment the words of Leonardo da Vinci when he wrote, “A diamond is just a lump of coal that stuck to its job.” As we look at the demise of the coal industry, what has happened is that the region has released the potential of thousand of coal miners who have honed their talents and skills and will be the diamonds ready to fuel the next generation of prosperity which will change the region forever.
For anyone who doubts that our coal miners, their families, their friends and the people of the mountains will survive the demise of the coal industry, then each of you should take a few minutes to consider what has been quietly happening to change the region, to prepare the thousands of skilled coal miners for the next generation of jobs, jobs which will fuel the next generation of prosperity.
While it would be impossible to focus on every organization or person tirelessly working to redefine the mountain region, there is one organization which stands out and deserves recognition for its vision for the future of the mountains. That organization, One East Kentucky, is committed to navigating the region from coal jobs to jobs in the aerospace industry, the automotive industry, the energy industry, the healthcare industry, and other industries which will provide jobs not only today, but tomorrow, and for generations to come.
And what is unique about One East Kentucky, is that unlike most government organizations, One East Kentucky is changing the future of the region as a result of the passion just two individuals, individuals who have a passion and an undying belief in the people of the mountains and the future of the region. The contributions of just two individuals, Chuck Sexton and Ivy Stanley, have done more for the future of the mountains for one reason, and one reason only, and that is because of their belief in the people of the mountains. And more importantly, One East Kentucky has a board of directors second to none, a board of directors who are the who’s who of American business and finance, a board of directors who care about the people of the mountains and the future of the mountains.
While it is impossible to know the reason or reasons that Chuck Sexton, Ivy Stanley, and the Board of Directors at One East Kentucky care so much for the region, it would appear that not only do each of them walk the walk and talk the talk, each of them live out their lives every day and echo the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said, “If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.” There are no liars or fools at One East Kentucky, just people and leaders who care about the people of the mountains and the future prosperity of the mountains.
In the end, it is important for everyone to know that the people of the mountains have never given up and will be the reason that this generation and future generations will survive the demise of coal, and will be the next generation of talented, skilled workers who will fill thousands of jobs in aerospace, automotive, energy, healthcare and other industries which will define the people of the mountains and its future prosperity.
So, as I often do, I would invite each of you to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, a place which today overlooks the office of One East Kentucky, a place where we can shout a loud thank you to Chuck Sexton , Ivy Stanley, and its Board of Directors, for their tireless efforts to ensure the future prosperity of the mountains, prosperity which will be fueled through the rich heritage of hard working, talented, skilled people of the mountains.