An industrial park that sits empty can be a drag on a town’s economy, but in Pikeville, Kentucky, leaders are celebrating.

“Who fills an industrial park in 10 months?” asks City Commissioner Kim May-Downey in the latest episode of Save Our Towns. The city unveiled the park’s latest tenant this past December, an advanced battery maker promising almost 900 jobs.

Elsewhere in the episode, Maxwell Vandervliet, of New York City, a master's student in urban and regional planning in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, entertains with some little-known facts about the number 16 in the Maxwell’s Number segment.

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Pennington Gap, which Save Our Towns’ reporters and cameras are following for a year, shows how the town’s leaders continue to learn about economic development. Researchers from Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development and Institute for Policy and Governance urge the town to go beyond its own boundaries by partnering with local agencies.

The expert tip comes from Hillary Sherman, North Carolina’s representative of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). She talks about the concept of “occupational clusters” and says EDA’s website is a “rich repository of information” that towns can employ to determine the alignment of town assets with industry needs.

Save Our Towns, produced by Outreach and International Affairs, has won communications, higher education and public service awards since its launch in 2014. The series speaks to small-town mayors and town managers throughout Appalachia with a mission to guide and inspire those who are working to build strong communities.

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