HOME Appalachia to kick off with first virtual entrepreneur meetup

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by Josh Little
he/him
contact@queerkentucky.com

The LGBTQ+ business community continues to grow in Eastern Kentucky and HOME Appalachia has made it their mission to foster that growth. The LGBTQ+ centered organization will host its first virtual meetup at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 30.

“This is an opportunity for LGBT entrepreneurs and innovators to come together and get to know each other and really start building the community that is lacking in [Eastern Kentucky,] said Tasha Sams (they/them), founder of HOME Appalachia, regarding the upcoming event.

The session, to be hosted virtually on Zoom, will be an informal way for entrepreneurs, innovators, and artists in the Eastern Kentucky community to become aware of one another as well as, to familiarize themselves with HOME Appalachia, which hopes to open its brick-and-mortar co-working and event space in Pikeville in the near future.

Tasha Sams, founder of HOME Appalachia

Sams said that although there seems to be a lack of entrepreneurial startups in Eastern Kentucky in comparison to other cities in Kentucky such as Covington, Lexington, and Louisville, the lack of LGBTQ+ startups in Eastern Kentucky is top of mind for HOME.

“Obviously, I am approaching this from a very specialized lens, we’re looking at the LGBTQ+ community, but that’s a community that I think is wildly talented, is wildly underserved and marginalized, and I think the first step is coming together and really putting the building blocks together to form a strong community,” said Sams, which she said inspired the idea for the upcoming virtual meeting.

Sams hopes the initial meetup will usher in a strong LGBTQ+ entrepreneurial business network in Eastern Kentucky that will “in the long run connect in with the awesome work that is being done across the state” via organizations such as Queer Kentucky and Story Louisville.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

The virtual event is targeted at individuals and entrepreneurs who are even remotely interested in contributing to the LGBTQ+ business community in the Eastern Kentucky region.

“We are looking at individuals in our community who have already started small businesses, but also individuals who are wondering what it’s like to start a small business,” said Sams.

The event is designed around the LGBTQ+ community in Eastern Kentucky; however, according to Sams, it is not limited to individuals in that area, noting that they have been contacted by others in the greater Appalachia area who have expressed interest.

“We are starting with Eastern Kentucky, but that certainly doesn’t limit anyone from that tri-state Appalachian area that we are working in,” said Sams.

WHAT IS HOME

HOME Appalachia is a concept developed by Sams and was initially intended to resemble an LGBTQ+ entertainment venue, but that idea continued to develop, grow, and evolve into what it is today as they moved forward in research and conversations with the community.

“I took a step back and I really thought about, well, what is it that I’m seeing as a pattern? What is it that I’m seeing as a true need? That’s when I really started to think about what it would mean to center LGBTQ+ folks around what they can bring to their communities and what they are already bringing to their communities,” said Sams. “I think the sure-fire way to do that, in a positive way, that is really hard to argue with, is through economic development, small businesses and entrepreneurship.”

Essentially, HOME Appalachia will be a co-working and event space to promote the ideas and livelihoods of members of the LGBTQ+ community in Eastern Kentucky.

Those interested in HOME Appalachia’s mission or who want to learn more are encouraged to attend the virtual meet-up on January 30. The registration link can be found on HOME Appalachia’s Facebook page, where the event is listed, or on Instagram @homeappalachia. The event is free and open to the public.

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