PIKEVILLE – Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday a vital resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Eastern Kentucky.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is establishing a Kentucky Innovation Network office in Pikeville. The office, on the University of Pikeville campus, will provide much-needed assistance to startup companies in the Appalachian region.
Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and Acting Business Development Commissioner Mandy Lambert joined local leaders, educators and community officials to celebrate the announcement in Pike County.
“By adding the new office in Pikeville, we will be better able to serve the rapidly growing number of entrepreneurs and small businesses in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “Innovation is key to changing the economic landscape in Appalachia and we need to offer small businesses encouragement, guidance and a blueprint for success. I look forward to seeing positive results and hearing more success stories as a result of this new location.”
From assisting startups in assessing an idea, to developing a business plan, to finding grants, loans and capital, the Kentucky Innovation Network helps local companies discover the resources needed to be successful. The Pikeville office will operate in the university’s Community Technology Center and will serve nine counties, including Pike, Martin, Johnson, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Perry, Breathitt and Magoffin.
“Small businesses are the backbone of a sustainable economy,” said UPIKE President James Hurley. “We are excited to participate in this public-private partnership to extend and offer opportunity for economic development. Eastern Kentucky is full of great entrepreneurial leaders and the innovation center provides the platform for ideas to be developed and cultivated.”
As part of the partnership, the university will match $175,000 in state funding for the project, providing facilities, human capital and technology.
“In this challenging economic climate, we must do more. What we need are jobs,” said Hurley. “Secretary Hayes, I commit to you today that the University of Pikeville will raise an additional $175,000 to establish the Appalachian Business Opportunity Endowment. We will be calling upon business leaders from across our region to invest in the economic future of Central Appalachia.”
The opening of the new office comes weeks after Gov. Beshear, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, community leaders and local residents announced their action plan for Eastern Kentucky’s Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Initiative. Among the initiative’s main goals is to increase business recruitment and incubation in the region.
“Starting your own business is a daunting task with many hurdles and financial risks, a combination that keeps some people from following their dreams of operating their own business,” said Rogers. “This new Kentucky Innovation Network office will help answer questions, provide access to new opportunities and provide entrepreneurs in with the tools they need to launch their businesses and create jobs in Eastern Kentucky. When small businesses thrive, our entire economy benefits. I applaud UPIKE for being a key partner in this effort to support job growth in our region.”
“There’s so much business potential in Eastern Kentucky, and we need to make sure the state is supporting entrepreneurs as much as possible,” said Hayes. “This new innovation center will only help grow the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the region.”
“The Kentucky Innovation Network helps entrepreneurs at all stages – whether they’re just starting with an idea or already have an established business,” said Lambert. “With this new office, Eastern Kentuckians will now receive the assistance, tools and resources needed to help start and grow their companies.”
With the Pikeville location, the Kentucky Innovation Network provides business assistance to entrepreneurs from 13 locations across the state. Formed in 2002 by the Cabinet for Economic Development, the network serves all 120 counties throughout the Commonwealth from offices in Ashland, Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Lexington, London, Louisville, Morehead, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Richmond.
Last year, the Kentucky Innovation Network helped support 240 new companies create more than 1,000 new jobs and assist businesses in raising more than $100 million in private investments.
The Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development oversees the Kentucky Innovation Network and other services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth. The goal of the office is to create and promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship statewide.
For more information on the Kentucky Innovation Network, visit www.kyinnovation.com.