Press Releases

Jarfly Brewing Co. Sees Growth Beyond Taproom

SOMERSET, KY – Somerset’s first craft brewery is experiencing growth beyond its local taproom, after only six months of operation.

Jarfly Brewing Company’s hand-crafted beers are being served in restaurants and at bars across Eastern Kentucky. The locally owned small business began regional distribution of some of its most popular craft beers in February.

Owners Del Stephens and Daniel Stroud say it’s all part of their business plan and in keeping with their target goal from the very beginning.

"We've been really fortunate to have a lot of amazing patrons supporting what we're doing since opening last summer,” Stephens said. “Our taproom has given people a great way to experience Jarfly and get to know what we're all about. Now we are excited to provide more people across the region a chance to experience our beers."

Perry Distributors, based in Hazard, Ky., is handling Jarfly's distribution for the Eastern Kentucky region. General Manager Jeff Sandlin said he is proud to work with small craft breweries, like Jarfly, to meet an increased customer demand for craft beer.

“The craft beer industry has really taken off in the past three to four years, and we - as a large distributor - want to recognize and help as many small breweries as possible,” Sandlin said. "Craft beer consumers are samplers, so we try to provide them as many different samples as we can. It’s a good day to be in the beer industry, and we are glad to be working with Jarfly Brewing Co. and other small craft breweries across the state.” Read

LINK@211 Provides Free Valuable Networking Event for Local Businesses

SOMERSET, KY – Strategic social media tips were shared to get small business owners’ ideas brewing at Station 211 on Tuesday.

Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) hosted its first LINK@211 meeting at the unique coffee bar and entrepreneur collaborative workspace in downtown Somerset at Noon.

LINK Southeast Kentucky is a small business networking effort offered and encouraged across Southeast Kentucky. Meetings in Morehead and Prestonsburg have already been successful, beginning in 2016.

Nearly 30 small business owners gathered in the Station 211 basement meeting room for the opportunity to learn, network and gain new skills to market, manage and grow their businesses at a free lunchtime session and served a catered meal provided by the Boar’s Nest.

SKED Small Business Training Specialist Amanda Kelly led the presentation. Kelly, who also teaches SKED’s Entrepreneurial SMARTS small business training program, developed LINK, after teaching several SMARTS classes, where many of the topics addressed at LINK@211 were discussed. When funding for the LINK program became available, Kelly knew this was something small business owners all across the region could benefit from.

“Part of the technical assistance we offer at SKED encourages business owners to build partnerships with small business owners in their backyards as much as possible,” Kelly said. “SKED is offering these meetings free of charge, it’s up to the communities to decide whether they’re viable and succeed where we start them.” Read

SKED Helps Fund Rogers of Manchester Opening in Historic Locale

MANCHESTER, KY - The Rogers name has been on the door at 106 Main Street, Manchester for as long as most of its residents can remember. Generations have bought their jewelry from the same family in the same location for nearly 70 years. It’s a part of the downtown landscape.

That tradition continues thanks to Clay County native, Rhonda Bowling, who is opening her own new business, Rogers of Manchester, in the same location.

Bowling purchased the historic jewelry store in January when the second generation of Rogers, Fred Rogers, retired. She has worked to make it her own by restoring many of the original fixtures, keeping the bones of the store in place while adding her own flair to create a unique and inviting shopping experience.

The Rogers name will remain on the store, as a tribute to the solid and honest dealings that helped established the name well in the community for so many years at the Main Street location, Bowling said.

The new store, Rogers of Manchester, will still feature fine jewelry and dependable repair services including watch batteries. In addition, it now showcases a unique blend of Kentucky art, pottery and other gift items. Much of the merchandise is skillfully handcrafted by artisans from across the region. Bowling doesn’t consider it as much of a new business as a revitalization of one of Manchester’s retail landmarks. I guess you could say it’s personal for Bowling. Here’s why:

Clay County natives Howard Rogers and Ben White partnered to open Rogers & White Jewelers there in 1949, when both returned from serving in World War II, where Rogers had been a prisoner of war in a German prison camp. The two best friends had seen much of the world, too much they might have said, and came home to build their American dreams in their hometown.

Rogers and White had grown up together in Clay County. They came home to rebuild their lives and combined their G.I. Bills to buy what was then a sporting goods store on Main Street. For 25 years, they ran the successful business together, with the help of their watch repairman, Robert Sams, also a WWII veteran who had lost a leg in battle. Here is where Rhonda Bowling comes in . . . Sams was her beloved grandfather. Bowling says it’s her memories of visiting her grandfather there as a child that makes the store a special place. “I loved going into Rogers and White’s with my grandfather when I was a child,” Bowling said with a smile. “So, the place feels like home to me. He would park his car over by Manchester Lumber and would hold my hand to help me walk across the swinging bridge, and we would come in to the store from there.” Read

Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband Project Receives Good Response; Project Analysis Under Way

SOMERSET, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) put out the call for projects designed to Move Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband at the end of 2016, and leaders and business owners from across the region answered with some of their best ideas.

A total of 15 project proposals were submitted for consideration. Following an extensive review, the field has been narrowed to 11. Those 11 have been advanced for further due diligence: including economic impact analysis, engineering analysis and fiber/broadband connectivity analysis.

Project semi-finalists will be invited to present their projects for final review in March. Through Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband, SKED is identifying short and long-term economic development projects in 26-coal impacted Kentucky counties that may be eligible for approximately $500,000 to $2,000,000 in funding from various sources. The projects will leverage the KentuckyWired I-Way and other broadband networks in the eligible counties. SKED will prioritize the selected project finalists and seek resources, funding, and partnerships to see that the projects are realized and produce new jobs and investment for the region.

SKED is being assisted by Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA) and MSE of Kentucky, along with representatives from the Center for Rural Development. Read

Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband RFP Now Online

SOMERSET, Ky. – Leaders and business owners located within 26 coal-impacted counties in Eastern Kentucky are invited to submit their projects designed to Move Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband. The Request for Proposal is now available online at SKED’s website: www.southeastkentucky.com.

Through Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) is identifying short and long-term economic development projects in the 26 Kentucky counties that may be eligible for approximately $500,000 to $2,000,000 in funding from various sources. The projects will leverage the Kentucky Wired I-Way and other broadband networks in the eligible counties. SKED will prioritize the selected project finalists and seek resources, funding, and partnerships to see that the projects are realized and produce new jobs and investment for the region.

Deadline for proposal submission is: 4:30 p.m. EDT, December 12, 2016. They may be submitted by email to: Brett Traver, SKED executive director at btraver@centertech.com or by mail to: Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, 2292 S. Highway 27, Somerset, KY 42501.

Any questions regarding the project or process should be submitted before 4:30 p.m. EDT, December 5, 2016. Answers to those will be posted online on December 7, 2016 at www.southeastkentucky.com

SKED received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) in September to conduct a feasibility study to identify short and long-term economic development projects leveraging broadband infrastructure. Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA) was hired to assist in deploying the project’s goals and developing project assessments. MSE of Kentucky is also a partner, with its expertise in engineering.Read

SKED Hosts Symposium to Help Eastern Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Leaders Learn About Government Contracting

CORBIN, Ky. – Some of the region’s most successful advanced manufacturing and technology entrepreneurs gathered for the Eastern Kentucky Defense Contracting Symposium on November 1 to learn how they could better access contract work with the U.S. Department of the Defense (DOD) in the coming years.

Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) spearheaded the meeting designed to help assist companies in acquiring information about the necessary certifications and quality control requirements to be considered as either contractors or subcontractors on future federal government contracts. The event was co-sponsored by Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).

SOAR co-founder/co-chair and Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers spoke to symposium attendees, along with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

“Through my role as Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, I have become keenly aware of the needs of the Department of Defense and the supply chain for the defense industrial base. I think our region has an important role to play in maintaining that supply chain for our war fighters,” said Rogers, who helped launch SKED in 1986. “We’ve already proven that we can do critical work for the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Veterans Administration, and other federal agencies. We have the best workforce in the country and we want the world to know that Eastern Kentucky is open for business.”Read

Leaders Learn How to Move the Region Forward with Broadband

HAZARD, Ky. – City and county leaders from across Eastern Kentucky gathered in Hazard on October 13, as Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) rolled out its new initiative designed to identify economic development projects that leverage broadband infrastructure to create jobs throughout the region.

Nearly 60 men and women from all economic sectors and surrounding counties filled a room at the First Federal Center at Hazard Community & Technical College in Hazard to hear how they could develop projects that would take advantage of the benefits of broadband access in their communities, as part of Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband.

Steve Baker drove from London to hear what SKED and its partners had to offer. SKED staff was joined by partners: Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA) and MSE of Kentucky, along with representatives from the Center for Rural Development, for the presentation providing detail and selection criteria to attendees seeking to grow their communities.

“I left the SKED meeting excited at the possibilities this project can provide to our region. It presents the best opportunity, to date, for Eastern Kentucky communities to leverage the KentuckyWired project and create real solutions to our region’s problems,” said Baker, superintendent of the London Utility Company. “Good things are ahead.”

The 30-year-old non-profit organization received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) in September to conduct a feasibility study to identify short and long-term economic development projects leveraging broadband infrastructure.Read More

SKED Awarded Grant to Assist in Broadband Expansion

SOMERSET, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) to conduct a feasibility study to identify short and long-term economic development projects leveraging KentuckyWired I-Way Broadband network infrastructure plans.

SKED is providing $25,000 in matching funds for the project called: Moving Eastern Kentucky Forward with Broadband. The project will identify economic development projects that can capitalize on the "KentuckyWired" initiative and create jobs in 26 coal counties in the region that have been negatively impacted by the coal industry.

Executive Director Brett Traver says the planning grant will be used to give Eastern Kentucky communities and business owners and leaders an opportunity to take greater advantage of what KentuckyWired has to offer in the coming months and years.

“With this project, we want to identify the communities with the leadership to develop, support and implement economic development projects that will have the greatest impact on the region by utilizing the broadband technology,” Traver said. “There are a lot of good ideas out there that need to be developed. This project will identify the best, objectively, and develop a plan to help make them happen.”

The project area includes: Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe counties. Read More

Founding SKED Board Member Michael Hayes Retires

SOMERSET, Ky. – Michael Hayes witnessed a lot of change, during his 30-year tenure on the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors. Earlier this summer, he announced he was stepping down from the board after giving three decades of his life in service to the nonprofit economic development organization.

Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers commended Hayes for dedicating 30 years of service to SKED’s Board of Directors. In recognition of his retirement from the board, Rogers presented Hayes with the Hal Rogers Difference Maker Award at the organization’s 30th Anniversary celebration held earlier this summer. "Michael Hayes has coordinated and managed millions of dollars in loans, spurring business development and job creation across our region,” said Congressman Rogers. “His expertise in both investment banking and business recruitment has been a tremendous asset for job growth during challenging economic times. While he continues to make a difference in our region’s economy through his work at Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, his expertise will certainly be missed at SKED.” Read More

Congressman Rogers Helps SKED Celebrate 30 Years of Service to the Region kwilson.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – Nearly 150 local, state and federal leaders joined Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers in celebrating Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation’s (SKED) 30th Anniversary, Thursday, August 11, at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

“SKED has helped create 10,500 jobs – that’s 10,500 families that live and work here in southern and eastern Kentucky,” Rogers told the crowd. “SKED is a grassroots effort with local people using our own ideas to solve our own problems. I’m incredibly proud of the small businesses and manufacturing companies that are still thriving today, thanks to the support of this organization over the last three decades.”

Community and business leaders from across Southeast Kentucky gathered to commemorate the regional nonprofit economic development organization’s 30th year in business and salute the key partners who’ve played a role in its successes. Read More

Wilson Begins Work as SKED SBA/Business Loan Officer kwilson.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – Kimberly J. Wilson brings 20 years of commercial lending experience with her, as she begins work as SKED’s SBA/Business Loan Officer this week.

The Bell County native has lived in a number of different states and regions across the country, during her extensive career. She’s worked with businesses to develop multi-million dollar financing packages across the state, received U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) training at locations across the U.S. and worked with commercial bankers throughout the region. But when she saw the opportunity to “come home” to help businesses in Southeast Kentucky and across the state startup and expand, with SKED’s loan funds, she couldn’t pass on the opportunity.

She’s spent the last six years working as Loan Operations Manager at Community Ventures Corporation (CVC) in Lexington, Ky. At CVC, she directed all aspects of loan administration including closing and funding, extensive servicing, and liquidation/work out modifications of the Community Development Corporation (CDC)’s $40 million SBA 504 loan portfolio. This valuable experience will help her to grow SKED’s burgeoning SBA 504 Loan Program. Her extensive training in all areas of SBA lending will give SKED’s lending department a boost of energy by developing and connecting key relationships among the region’s banking industry and small business arena. Wilson said her decision to come to work for SKED is a homecoming, of sorts.

“I am excited to join SKED and become a part of an organization that does such great work in the area I grew up,” she said. “I’m ready to take my 20 years of lending experience and gear that expertise toward promoting business development in the community where I’m from.”Read More

SMARTS Graduates Gather for Reunite Somerset thompsons.jpg

Somerset, Ky. – Graduates of SKED’s small business training program - Entrepreneurial SMARTS – gathered at the Center for Rural Development, recently, for a reunion that is designed to give them the opportunity to share their successes and network with other small business owners in the region.

Sean and Suzie Thompson, owners of Knife of the Party Catering Co., attended Reunite Somerset bringing with them free desserts they had prepared as part of their new McCreary County catering business. The husband and wife team graduated from the August 2014 SMARTS class in Whitley City.

More than a year since graduation, the couple says the information they received as part of the training course gave them the motivation they needed to get their business started and the financial savvy to do it in the smartest way possible.

“I graduated from the University of Tennessee Culinary Arts program in 2008 and wanted to do something like this back then, but the pieces didn’t fall in to place until we took the SMARTS class,” Sean Thompson said. “The class put us in touch with so many important people who’ve helped us along the way: John Preston with the EKU Small Business Development Center and Glen Hall, district manager for the Office of Field Operations at the Corbin Taxpayer Service Center.)”

The Thompsons opened their business in March 2015. Operating out of the basement of their home has worked out well for these parents of young twins. They’ve marketed their business in a number of ways in McCreary and Pulaski County. They’ve participated in the local Farmer’s Market, provided free samples at McCreary businesses and just recently catered their first wedding in Pulaski County.

When asked just how valuable the small business training course is to them, the Thompsons agreed that the $25 cost per person was a great investment in their business and their futures. “The truth is,” Suzie added, “if we had had $2,500 at the time we would have paid that for everything we learned and gained from Entrepreneurial SMARTS.” Read More

Link Southeast Kentucky a Success in Morehead moreahd link.jpg

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Eighteen East Kentucky business owners participated in Link Southeast Kentucky’s first three meetings in Morehead, Ky. earlier this summer.

The meetings began at local coffee shop, The Fuzzy Duck, and continued at the Innovation Launchpad in Morehead. Business owners were treated to an open discussion session and a presentation by a local entrepreneur at each meeting.

Business owner Steve Lewis says his participation in the meetings was beneficial.

"The Link meetings are a great venue to bounce ideas off of other small business owners and listen to success as well as failures,” Lewis said. “We can all learn something no matter how long we have been in business. I recommend it highly."

Link Southeast Kentucky is Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED’s) most recent initiative designed to give entrepreneurs and small business owners the information and guidance that will help them grow their businesses and form lasting commercial and personal relationships in their own communities and throughout the region.

Link is a spinoff of SKED’s highly successful Entrepreneurial SMARTS training course.

Staff saw the need to expand upon the resources and training provided by SMARTS by giving small business owners a venue to continue the networking begun during the training. Link meetings are free and open to all business owners. The Morehead community welcomed Link Southeast Kentucky with open arms.

“I think LINK Southeast Kentucky can be a very beneficial program in that it allows the beginning entrepreneur to hear first-hand the pros and cons of being in business for yourself,” said Terry Ensor, interim executive director for the Morehead-Rowan County Economic Development Council, Inc. “Experienced and seasoned business owners making the presentations gives these people necessary information needed to start a business. They also have given them some excellent marketing ideas.” Read More

Cook is New SKED Director of Lending Wendy.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – A Kentucky native is coming home to lead the lending department at Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED). Paul Cook begins work as SKED’s Director of Lending this month.

The Spencer County native brings more than 20 years of lending experience to the 29-year-old nonprofit economic development organization. Having spent most of his career in a number of different lending positions at CoBank in Greenwood, Colorado, Cook says he’s prepared to use his acquired experience and depth of knowledge in the private sector to oversee the organization’s $6 million loan portfolio and help build on its successful loan programs.

"I'm excited about joining the SKED team and contributing to its mission of serving the communities within its region,” Cook said. “My wife, Theresa, and I cherish this opportunity to return to our home state of Kentucky and become part of the Somerset community.”

In addition to Cook’s professional experience, he holds a Master’s degree in Business from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky.

SKED Executive Director Brett Traver says Paul’s knowledge of SKED’s service area and decades of lending experience were key factors in selecting him for the management position.

“We are pleased our search to fill this position has ended with a Kentucky native,” said SKED Executive Director Brett Traver. “Paul’s extensive lending and management experience will be key in helping our lending department develop and continue to provide the vital loan programs it’s offered this region for the past 15-plus years. His knowledge of our 45-county service region will be invaluable in the coming years.” Read More

Barnes Presented Plaque of Appreciation tim barnes..jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – SKED honored Corbin resident and Hometown Bank President Tim Barnes, left, with a plaque of appreciation, this week , for his four years of service as the president of its 12-member volunteer board of directors. Barnes is presented the plaque of appreciation, above, by incoming president, Darryl McGaha, of Russell County. McGaha will serve as SKED’s board president for the next two years.

McGaha Elected SKED Board of Directors President for 2015-16 Wendy.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – An Adair County native will lead the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation’s (SKED) Board of Directors for the next two years.

Darryl McGaha was installed as the nonprofit economic development organization’s president at the April Board meeting. McGaha takes the reins of the 29-year-old organization from Corbin resident Tim Barnes who had served as the Board’s president since April 2011.

McGaha brings seven years of SKED experience to the office, having served previously as the organization’s secretary and vice-president.

He’s been a director since 2008, but his role as workforce development director for the Lake Cumberland Area Development District has kept him at the forefront of economic development activities around the region for years.

“Since becoming a member of the SKED Board of Directors, I have experienced great leadership from the president, other officers and members of the board,” McGaha said. “To be named president at SKED is humbling and comes with great responsibility to ensure the high quality of service that has been delivered in the past will continue.”

“The opportunity to improve the economy of Southeast Kentucky by assisting existing and new businesses within SKED’s service area is exciting to see both continued growth and to provide job security for existing employees and new opportunities for others.” Read More

Daycare Owner Expands to Pulaski and Laurel with SKED’s Help Wendy.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. – For Wendy Adams, childcare is more of a calling than a business.

She’s answered that call for 11 years, as owner of Wendy’s Wonderland with two locations in Wayne County, Ky. But the call became even stronger in more recent years when she was diagnosed with, treated for and recovered from breast cancer. Today, both healthy and thankful, Adams has set her sights on expanding her childcare services into Pulaski and Laurel counties.

A veteran daycare owner and mother of four, she may operate her facilities with an open heart and mind, but Adams’ degrees in early childhood and business management help her make level-headed decisions and be on the lookout for the best investments and service area.

With expansion in mind, she contacted Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), a regional economic development organization. SKED provides direct loans designed to help small business owners expand by purchasing land and equipment and provide them the hands-on technical assistance they need to get their business going and keep it on track for success. Read More

Link Southeast Kentucky Debuting in Morehead, Ky. Linklogo.jpg

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) is giving small business owners and entrepreneurs a new way to network and connect beginning this month.

Link Southeast Kentucky is SKED’s most recent initiative designed to give entrepreneurs and small business owners information and guidance that will help them grow their businesses and form lasting commercial and personal relationships in their own communities and throughout the region.

Link, essentially a coffee shop-style format meeting, is a spinoff of SKED’s highly successful Entrepreneurial SMARTS training course. Staff saw the need to expand upon the resources and training provided by SMARTS by giving small business owners a venue to continue the networking begun during the training. Link meetings are free and open to all business owners.

SKED Small Business Training Specialist Amanda Kelly says the purpose of Link is to bring small business owners and entrepreneurs together to share ideas and experiences allowing them to help one another grow and prosper.

“Quite often during SMARTS trainings we see students come up with very creative solutions to issues small businesses face, just by having a conversation with each other,” Kelly explained. “This networking event will provide that same opportunity for all small business owners in the area. By learning from the experiences of others, we can overcome hurdles and achieve success together. ” she will bring to Entrepreneurial SMARTS,” Traver said. “Pat Bradley has built the program from the ground up and created a successful training program that has benefited more than 350 people. We wish her the best in her retirement and are thankful her dedication to and the development of Entrepreneurial SMARTS.” Read More

Bradley Retires Following a Long Career of Service to Southeast Kentucky Pat2015.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. - Pat Bradley has been a loud voice for a number of important issues over the course of her 45-year career.

From improving East Kentucky's economic image to extolling the value of the arts in education, encouraging successful entrepreneurship and teaching physical fitness, the petite Whitesburg, Ky. native has spent her career developing a passion for each of these issues, promoting them to everyone in her wake and working to help others develop their own aspirations. She’s done it all with love, grace and success.

She ends her career this month, announcing her retirement from Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED). As she says farewell to her storied career of service, she leaves in her path hundreds of success stories and dreams realized. She’s the first to tell you, she’s had a fulfilling and fun journey.

As SKED’s Small Business Training Specialist, Bradley spent the last three years developing, promoting and teaching Entrepreneurial SMARTS: Simple Methods

And Reality-based Training for Success. The unique training program is based on a nationally recognized small business training program called Core Four® Business Planning Course. Thanks to Bradley’s knowledge of funding available for such programs, this $250 course has been offered at a mere $25 to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Southeast Kentucky. Read More

Kelly is SKED's New Small Business Training Specialist Amanda Kelly.jpg

SOMERSET, Ky. - A Somerset woman has taken over the reins of SKED’s successful Entrepreneurial SMARTS small business training program.

Amanda Kelly is the nonprofit organization’s new Small Business Training Specialist, a position recently vacated by the retiring Pat Bradley.

Kelly brings more than 10 years of experience as a business manager with several Somerset businesses to SKED’s three-year-old small business training program. She says it’s a challenge she’s prepared to meet.

Kelly is also owner of Amanda Kelly Golf. She’s taught more than 100 golfing clinics in the area since 1999.

"The opportunity to teach the Entrepreneurial SMARTS training program is extremely exciting for me,” Kelly said. “I was fortunate to have taken the Entrepreneurial SMARTS class when it was taught by Pat Bradley. Pat has done a great job building the SMARTS program over the last three years, and I am looking forward to continuing on the strong foundation she has built."

SKED Executive Director Brett Traver says Kelly’s enthusiasm and previous experience in the small business arena make her a great fit to lead the region’s most prolific small business training program.

“We are pleased to have Amanda join our staff and look forward to the leadership and insight she will bring to Entrepreneurial SMARTS,” Traver said. “Pat Bradley has built the program from the ground up and created a successful training program that has benefited more than 350 people. We wish her the best in her retirement and are thankful her dedication to and the development of Entrepreneurial SMARTS.”

Kelly is a graduate of Cumberland College. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. She and her husband, Tim, have two children: Drew, age 6, and Emily, age 3.

Entrepreneurial SMARTS is a four-session, 12-hour course designed to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resource materials they need to get a new small business off the ground. This training also provides owners of existing small businesses the skills they need to become more successful.

Since 2012, 368 people from across Southeast Kentucky have enrolled in the course and received their certificates of completion at some 29 sessions offered across the region.

The 30th session of Entrepreneurial SMARTS is under way in Manchester, Ky. The next scheduled training will be conducted in Edmonton, Ky. Read More

HHS Grant Will Help Create More Jobs in Lake Cumberland Area usda

SOMERSET, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) has been awarded a $741,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Community Services to assist a Russell County manufacturer expand its operations and create new jobs in the Lake Cumberland area.

SKED will loan the funds to Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems, a Germany-based automotive supplier that’s been operating in the Russell County Industrial Park since April. The business announced it will create 155 full-time jobs when fully operational. Funds recaptured by the loan to this business will be used to invest in other businesses across SKED’s 45-county service area.

The Russell County workforce has been hit hard in recent months. When officials with the Jamestown Fruit of the Loom plant announced they would move that operation to South America taking its 600 jobs with it, SKED began working with the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (RCIDA) looking for ways to stem the tide of job loss.

"SKED is pleased to partner with Dr. Schneider and the RCIDA on this expansion project and for the valuable support of the U.S. Department for Health & Human Services Office of Community Services,” said SKED Executive Director Brett Traver. “Together, we’re working to create new jobs in Russell County. The employment opportunities Dr. Schneider is creating are a step in the right direction to replace some of the jobs lost as a result of the Fruit of the Loom plant closing earlier this year. SKED will continue to lead the way in job creation across our region by working to develop key projects like this one.”Read More

SKED Awarded ARC Grant to Continue Entrepreneurial Training usda

SOMERSET, Ky. – Southeast Kentucky entrepreneurs and small business owners will continue to have access to a nationally recognized small business training program in the coming months, thanks to an ongoing partnership between Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The ARC awarded SKED funding in the amount of $132,160 to assist the nonprofit economic development corporation in continuing to bring its highly successful Entrepreneurial SMARTS training into eight communities across the region during this program period. Communities targeted include those in Clay, Estill, Harlan, Lawrence, Letcher, Martin, Metcalfe, and Wayne counties.

In addition to the training sessions in 2014-2015, SKED is planning two Entrepreneurial SMARTS reunions and three networking programs. More details on those events will be shared early next year.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl says the SMARTS training program is helping make small business owners’ American dreams come true.

“Entrepreneurs play a critical role in growing local economies,” Gohl said. “And SKED’s program helps give Eastern Kentucky’s entrepreneurs a leg up so they can succeed in achieving their dreams.”

SKED conducts the small business training program - Entrepreneurial SMARTS: Simple Methods And Reality-based Training for Success – which is based on a nationally recognized program called Core Four® Business Planning Course. The ARC has provided funding support for these training sessions for the past two years. Since SKED began offering the program in early 2012, a total of 344 aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners have completed SMARTS training in 27 sessions.Read More

SKED Helps Owingsville Man Puts His Knowledge to Work for Himself usda

OWINGSVILLE, Ky. – Bill Plutnick is creating digital models of a machine that caused an industrial accident resulting in someone’s death. Using his models, experts can make an educated opinion as to the cause of the accident.

This high-tech, forensic analysis isn’t being done in a lab owned by a major corporation on the other side of the country. Plutnick is conducting this ground-breaking work from his own small shop in rural East Kentucky.

The New Jersey native made Owingsville his home 13 years ago when his wife accepted a position at Morehead State University. The mechanical engineer, designer and entrepreneur traveled around the state and country, working as an engineer for several large manufacturing and aerospace businesses, before he decided to begin his own business in the garage of his Bath County home.

At age 50, Plutnick has taken his mechanical engineering degree, 20-plus years of experience working for large companies in the field, and combined those two important factors with a great imagination and an inherited entrepreneurial spirit to start his own company, called Swiss Metrology, in tiny Owingsville, Ky. population 1,530.Read More

Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Share Suggestions at SKED's SOAR Community Listening Session usda

SOMERSET, Ky. – Nearly 50 Pulaski County small business owners, entrepreneurs and interested community residents gathered at the Pulaski County Public Library Monday night to voice their opinions, concerns and suggestions at Somerset’s SOAR (Shaping our Appalachian Region) Community Listening Session on Business Incubation and Entrepreneurship.

Pat Bradley, SKED small business training specialist, was facilitator of the event. Other facilitators included: SKED SBA Microloan Officer Meredith King, EKU Small Business Development Center Director Jason Rainey and Paul Wright, enterprise development director for the Mountain Association of Economic Development (MACED).

SKED Executive Director Brett Traver called the two-hour community listening session a success for SKED and the SOAR Committee.

“The event last night provided a great exchange of ideas the SOAR Executive Committee can use to better develop entrepreneurship throughout the region,” Traver said. “As the SOAR initiative grows, SKED stands ready to be a partner to help move our region forward.”

The SOAR initiative was launched by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers in late 2013, after a rapid downturn in the coal mining industry created even greater challenges in East Kentucky related to unemployment and poverty. SOAR is designed to help the region develop and put into action new locally-oriented strategies to attack persistent challenges. This is one of several listening sessions being held across the region in the coming months.

The goal of the SKED-hosted meeting was to give SOAR committee members a working understanding of the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners and to identify resources that are available. It is also hoped the sessions will give the committees information that will help determine other resources needed to support small business startup and growth. From these meetings, recommendations will be made to the SOAR executive committee for consideration of inclusion in the regional community economic development plan for Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

East Kentucky Native/Veteran Economic Developer Hired As SKED Leader usda

SOMERSET, Ky. – One of East Kentucky’s most successful economic development professionals will now lead Southeast Kentucky’s premier regional economic development organization.

East Kentucky native Brett Traver has been hired as Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation’s (SKED) new executive director. He will begin work July 1.

His experience in the economic development field, both statewide and on the local level, has prepared him for this new regional role, according to the SKED Board of Directors.

As executive director, Traver will spearhead the marketing and industrial recruitment activities in SKED’s 45-county service area, manage a $10 million loan portfolio, oversee the training of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and provide economic and community development assistance to local communities in Southeast Kentucky.

Traver brings more than a decade of experience as a senior project manager with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to SKED.

He’s spent that last two and one half years working for the Morehead-Rowan County Economic Development Council where he supervised the marketing of the John Will Stacy MMRC Regional Business Park and the Morehead-Rowan County Aviation Business Park. Read More

London Dentist and Community Leader Selected for SKED’s General Membership usda

LONDON, Ky. – A London dentist and member of the London-Laurel County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is the newest member of Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED’s) General Membership.

Mike Trosper, owner of Pepperhill Dental Care in London, was nominated to be a representative for the Laurel County area and installed as one of the 25-member group at SKED’s annual meeting this spring. The General Membership is comprised of community and business leaders throughout SKED’s 45-county service area.

SKED Board Chairman Tim Barnes said Trosper is a seamless addition to the SKED advisory board.

“Mike knows the region and its challenges,” Barnes said. “Having someone with his experience and insight will only make our General Membership more engaging and productive. We are thrilled to have him join us in working to fulfill our mission of bringing a better quality of life to Southeast Kentuckians by creating jobs and helping small businesses grow here.” Read More

New USDA StrikeForce Program Will Enhance SKED’s Services usda

SOMERSET, Ky. – All communities in SKED’s 45-county service area will benefit from a designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced earlier this month.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack detailed the expansion of the USDA’s StrikeForce Initiative into four additional states, including Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia, at a meeting in Bell County, Ky. on January 17.

Secretary Vilsack was joined by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, U.S. Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers, and a host of community leaders and supporters at the event held at Pine Mountain State Park in Pineville. In addition to the USDA announcement, the final report on the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Summit was revealed. Leaders agreed the significant new partnership opportunities through the USDA would mean promising new strategies for the success of eastern Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth. Read More

Greg Jones Retires As Excutive Director of SKED GREG'S PLAQUE

SOMERSET, Ky. – Greg Jones, executive director of Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), retired from his leadership position at SKED on Wednesday, Nov. 20. SKED Board of Directors President Tim Barnes presented Jones with a plaque of appreciation following the organization's November board meeting and on Jones' last day as SKED's leader. Jones provided 21 years of service to the nonprofit organization and to Southeast Kentucky. SKED Business and Finance Director Frank Rhodus has been named interim executive director, and a nationwide search for a new executive director is under way.

SKED Executive Director Greg Jones Retiring in December servepro

LONDON, Ky. - SOMERSET, Ky. – Greg Jones, executive director of Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), will retire in December after more than 21 years of service to the nonprofit organization and to Southeast Kentucky.

The longest serving executive director in the organization’s 27-year history, Jones is credited with strengthening SKED’s mission of job creation and making it the premier economic development agency in the region. Beginning with a $75,000 budget and two-person staff in 1992, Jones and his current staff of 10 professionals now operate with an annual budget of nearly $2 million.

“I’ve had the privilege to lead SKED and our amazing team of professionals for over two decades, and I am extremely proud of our successes,” Jones said. “I shall forever be grateful to Congressman Hal Rogers and the incredibly supportive and talented individuals on the SKED Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this remarkable organization. And, finally, I wish to thank the dedicated staff of SKED for their loyalty and friendship over these many years.” Read More

Husband and Wife Entrepreneur Team Gets a Big Boost from SBA 504 Loan servepro

LONDON, Ky. - It’s easy to see why Tony and Julie Roberts would choose to invest their finances and their futures in a franchise like ServePro. The 45-year-old cleaning and restoration business has been No. 1 in the industry for the past nine years and is has more than 1,500 fire and water cleanup and restoration franchises in 48 states.

Together, the husband and wife management team oversee the operation of three such franchises throughout Central and Southeast Kentucky. The young couple calls it a challenge and says that’s why they’ve spent the past seven years learning the ropes of the business. SKED helped the Roberts apply for and receive an SBA 504 loan to expand their Pulaski and Laurel County franchise to move out of a leased facility in downtown London to a new, larger facility in the London-Laurel Industrial Park and install a new inventory tracking system that makes management of all three businesses flow more smoothly. Read More

USDA Funding Will Help SKED Encourage Business Growth usda

SOMERSET, Ky. -Entrepreneurs and small business owners in southern Kentucky will benefit from a new program targeting their success by the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

SKED will use the $70,733 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to provide technical assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs in 18 counties by helping them start, stabilize and grow successful businesses.

The technical assistance will include the following products and services: entrepreneurial training, business planning and readiness assessment, accounting services and cash flow management, industry specific consulting and counseling, loan packaging and referral and technical assistance services. Read More

Blakeman Selected New SKED Board Director in 2013 dblakeman

SOMERSET, Ky. Lincoln County resident and SAIC Program Manager David Blakeman is the newest addition to the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) Board of Directors.

Blakeman and Rodney Hitch, East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) economic development manager, were elected to serve on the SKED Board of Directors in December and joined the board in January.

It’s Blakeman’s 11 years of expertise in the systems engineering, analysis and program management field that made him an appealing candidate for the board. He brings valuable information on how to attract technology-based companies to the region and will be a resource when working with future and existing government contractors. In the past, he’s worked with SKED, the Center for Rural Development and the National Institute for Hometown Security by hosting a number of regional training, exercise, and technology initiatives for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies.

Read More

Longtime Economic Development Executive Selected New SKED Board Director Rodney Hitch

SOMERSET, Ky.– A well-known East Kentucky economic development director has been elected to serve on the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) Board of Directors in 2013. Rodney Hitch, manager of corporate economic development for East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), joined the SKED board in January.

Hitch’s 21 years of experience in the community and economic development field groomed him to be a perfect fit for the SKED Board and its mission of job development in Southeast.

Read More

Read More