Mike Bryant | Breathitt County, KY

Mike Bryant is a software developer in Jackson, KY, the county seat of Breathitt County. According to the New York Times, Breathitt County is one of the worst places to live in America. Good luck convincing Mike of that. Mike hasn’t always lived in Breathitt County. He once lived in one of America’s most successful urban meccas: Atlanta. Likely, some would make the argument that Atlanta is one of the greatest places to live in America- especially if you’re in the tech arena. But when Mike and his wife Maudie, a pharmacist, decided to start a family, the first place they thought of was Jackson.

Mike knew that making the switch from the big city of Atlanta would likely entail financial sacrifice. Still, the needs of the family overrode those concerns. One of the most surprising things for Mike after making the move was discovering that in fact he could still make a comfortable living. The key: entrepreneurship. Rather than working for the man, Mike was the man. With strong experience in database development and design and the internet connections available in Jackson, Mike hung out a virtual shingle and soon was getting business from across America- at times further. He found he could make a very comfortable living in eastern Kentucky and meet the needs of his family, too.

Now, nine years later, Mike is an integral part of his community. He is active in the local Mason’s chapter, heads up the local GOP (a thankless task in a county without a single Republican office holder), and gets to spend a terrific amount of time with his family. His kids know their grandparents, their primary caregivers, and have never had the experience of daycare. Mike can choose his own hours, work from home, and avoid rush hour traffic. He scoffs at the idea that Breathitt County is one of the worst places to live in America. “There are few places I can think of that would be better to raise a family and own an IT business,” says Mike.

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