The Mountain Association was established in 1976 as the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, or MACED, by eight community organizations in Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia.
By establishing MACED, the organizations could provide economic development assistance to local efforts in the mountains.
The founders were intentional about combining “economic development,” which increases standard of living, community options and opportunities, with “community development,” which allows the community to make development decisions, while increasing leadership capacity.
MACED began providing support to small businesses and organizations, and began making its first business loans the following year.
The organization also developed its five-year vision that remains the core of our work today.
Over the next three decades, MACED started or supported several programs.
These included the Eastern Kentucky Bankers Consortium for Mortgage Lending, Citizens Water Task Force, Kentucky Local Governance Project, Women’s Initiative Networking Groups (WINGS), Forward in the Fifth, the Central Appalachian Network (CAN), Appalachia Funders Network, and the Appalachian Carbon Partnership.
A tract of old growth forest is discovered in Harlan County.
A group of conservationists formed the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) as a MACED program to protect the forest, along with other critical land in the Commonwealth. KNLT later became a stand alone affiliate, and the Mountain Association continues to provide them back office support today.
MACED launches an energy savings program then called Energy Efficient Enterprises, or E3.
Through this work, we have saved businesses, organizations and homeowners more than $1.2 million dollars annually on utility bills, and facilitated the completion of more than 500 energy efficiency installations.
MACED launches a residential energy savings program, called How$mart Kentucky.
In 2010, How$mart was approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission and began serving homeowners and renters in Eastern Kentucky.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP) was established as a MACED program.
KCEP promotes inclusive policies that address systemic inequity and injustice in the Commonwealth. Since it was established, KCEP has grown substantially, adding staff and doubling down on research and advocacy on the most pressing budget and policy challenges, including healthcare, tax reform, criminal justice, and higher education. In 2020, they will become an affiliate of the Mountain Association, though we will continue to provide back office support.
MACED opens its third office in Hazard.
With this office, MACED began to do more intensive place-based community development work.
MACED begins to offer Airbnb training and begins to support the What’s Next EKY?! Network.
Our New Energy Internship program also launched this year, and has since trained seven individuals, six of whom are now employed in Eastern Kentucky doing energy efficiency and renewable energy work.
MACED makes its first solar loans to non-profits and businesses in Letcher County.
We have helped facilitate or finance more than 30 solar installations in Eastern Kentucky. We also launched our Appalachia’s New Day storytelling campaign this year, and have shared more than 50 stories of change-making in our communities to date.
MACED becomes the Mountain Association and releases a new five-year plan.
Our new strategic plan, our renewed mission, and our deepening commitment to equity came together with this 2020’s truly unique moment in history: a global pandemic with unprecedented impact on lives and economies; the rising tide of voices with the movement for Black lives, and justice for all who have been oppressed, overlooked, disrespected or disregarded.
We invite you to read more about this change in our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and to join us on the journey of building a new economy, together.
Mountain Association helps 409 enterprises get Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Mountain Association became a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lender in March 2021 after Community Development Financial Institutions were authorized to administer these federal fully-forgivable loans to help businesses and organizations through financial strain caused by COVID-19. Though we had been connecting clients with an accountant early in the pandemic to help them apply for PPP loans
, people in the region were still having a difficult time submitting their applications through commercial lenders.
When the program ended on May 31, we had processed a record 409 loans, and deployed more than $6 million through loans averaging about $15,000 per borrower. From a truck drivers and warehouse union, to self-employed electricians and plumbers, to musicians and museums, these loans helped small businesses and sole proprietors continue to meet vital needs for the communities of this region.
Our energy policy efforts lead to major decision by the Kentucky Public Service Commission to uphold solar net metering.
Mountain Association helped secure a huge victory to protect solar net metering by formally intervening in a rate case before the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC).
One of Kentucky’s largest utilities, Kentucky Power, sought to reduce the benefits of solar net metering for its customers. In addition to changing their solar net metering rate from the current one-to-one credit to substantially less, the case included the company’s third request to increase rates in the past five years, with rate structure changes that discouraged energy efficiency measures.
We executed a robust communications campaign with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) and KY Solar Energy Society to generate more public awareness and increase public comments in these cases. We encouraged the PSC to host virtual public hearings so customers could safely participate during the pandemic, and ultimately three such hearings were held. Through our formal intervention, we were able to contribute to the PSC’s rate-making process with testimony, discovery, and cross-examination. All of these efforts resulted in key decisions by the PSC in 2021, including a lower rate increase than requested and the decision to uphold solar net metering.
Mountain Association purchases building in Hazard for redevelopment.
On July 7, 2022, Mountain Association purchased a three-story building at 479 Main Street in downtown Hazard, Kentucky. We were inspired to purchase the building given the substantial downtown revitalization progress made in Hazard over the past decade. The 11,000 square-foot building has anchored Main Street for decades, but has been unoccupied since First Federal Savings & Loan moved locations in 2016 after being in the building since 1960. See our progress.
Mountain Association launches SPARK Nonprofit Collaborative.