The Kentucky Press Association Board of Directors had its summer meeting virtually on July 23 and one of unanimous votes was to support a partnership with MACED for its planned study of the state of local media businesses in Eastern Kentucky. Here’s the report from John-Mark Hack, lending director for MACED about its project:
The Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development, or MACED, is a 43-year-old non-profit based in Berea. Among other programs, MACED loans money to small businesses in eastern Kentucky as a federally recognized Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). CDFI’s are “mission lenders,” meaning they make capital available to individuals, businesses, government entities and non-profits who may not qualify for conventional financing from a bank. CDFI’s are in a position to make higher risk loans and have the flexibility to be innovative and creative in their approaches to lending.
MACED is embarking on asking a set of questions about the state of local media businesses in eastern Kentucky, and is interested in possibly partnering with KPA , the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and other entities to determine answers to these questions and others that arise over the course of this inquiry:
- What is the economic status of local media businesses in eastern Kentucky?
- What is/are the most viable business model(s) for operating local media businesses in eastern Kentucky for the next 20 years?
- Are there local media businesses that are actively contemplating ownership transition in the near future?
- What steps could be taken to connect recent and/or future graduates of journalism/communications programs at public and private higher education institutions in eastern Kentucky with management and/or ownership opportunities in local media in eastern Kentucky?
- What actions could be taken at higher education institutions, middle schools and high schools to best prepare interested young people to be successful owners of local media businesses?
- How could we involve retired and soon-to-be retired local media owners to serve as mentors in an initiative that would cultivate a new generation of local media business ownership and management
- Are there other comparable initiatives in other states/regions from which we all could learn to help sustain local media businesses in eastern Kentucky?
- Assuming there are viable business models for local media, how could MACED participate as a small business lender to support new owners of local media businesses?
- Are there other sources of capital that could be tapped to form a capital stack to support new local media businesses and/or new owners of existing businesses as social enterprises?
MACED is in the earliest stages of asking these questions and others that come up during this inquiry. We see prosperous local media as an essential building block for all sustainable communities in our service area of the 54 Kentucky counties labeled “Appalachian” by the federal Appalachian Regional Commission. If there are ways to ensure the survival and future prosperity of local media businesses in eastern Kentucky, then MACED wants to determine what role we can play to best contribute and be most supportive.