After eight years growing grapes on her farm in Marion County, Alex Ackermann decided to expand her business and open the first winery in the county.
Ackermann entered the wine business later in life. “My kids were growing up and I was looking for something to do,” she said. “My husband and I were looking at this property and my friend said, ‘ That sure would be a great place to grow grapes.’” Intrigued, Alex began researching viticulture and was quickly hooked.
Ackermann manages the farm herself, tending to the grapes, treating them for pests and selling them to wine makers. Over time, she found herself ready to take on a new challenge. “Opening a winery is a natural next step and brings a value added product to my farm.”
In February 2011 Ackermann was referred to Patricia Krausman with the University of Kentucky SBDC in Elizabethtown.
Patricia helped me put together the comprehensive business plan necessary to obtain funding and run my business. She also went with me to the different banks when I was looking for financing. Opening a winery in Marion County is uncharted territory for this area so banks were hesitant to loan. Having Patricia’s assistance gave me additional credibility.
– Alex Ackermann
BlueMoon Winery became a reality in July 2011 when Ackermann received a loan to purchase land for the winery, necessary equipment and working capital to hire her first employee – a professional wine maker.
That fall, Ackermann had her first grape crushing and bottled 2,000 cases of wine made from 100% Kentucky-grown grapes. Ackermann explained that it is important to her that BlueMoon Winery uses Ken- tucky grapes to further support Kentucky’s growing wine industry.
Ackermann continues to consult with KSBDC as her business grows. BlueMoon Winery will hold its grand opening celebration in July 2012.
LEXINGTON, Ky., (May 6, 2015) – The commonwealth’s best were celebrated in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort on May 6 with an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding small businesses and small-business people. Kentucky Celebrates Small Business was presented by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, the Kentucky district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Lexington chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
“Small Business Week is big in Kentucky! These three organizations share the mission of supporting and encouraging small business and are proud to celebrate the wonderful entrepreneurial talent in Kentucky,” said Becky Naugle, KSBDC director.KSBDC selects Kentucky Pacesetter businesses based on how the nominees are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape by introducing innovative products, increasing sales and/or production, boosting employment and serving their communities.
This year’s outstanding Kentucky Pacesetters are:
• A.C.E. Compressor Services Inc., Mayfield
• Green River Appliance, Owensboro
• Stewart and Stafford Inc., Pikeville
• Sustainment Solutions Inc., Lancaster
Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes outstanding small businesses and entrepreneurs with awards across the country. The Small Business of the Year winner from each state has the opportunity to be acknowledged at both regional and national levels.
The 2015 Kentucky Small Business Administration award winners are:
• Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year: Scott Shinn, president and CEO of Sustainment Solutions Inc.
• Kentucky 8(a) Graduate of the Year: Kathy Mills, president and CEO of Strategic Communications
• Kentucky SBA Resource Partner of the Year: David Oetken, director of Small Business Development Center Louisville
• Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year: Mark Strother, president and CEO of Commercial Bank of Grayson
• Kentucky Home Based Business of the Year: Nicole Mueller, president and owner of Startup Productions LLC
• Kentucky Woman Small Business Advocate of the Year: Michelle Gorman, small business specialist at U.S. Bank of Bowling Green
• Kentucky Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Shane Hamilton, president and owner of Service Maids LLC
“Entrepreneurs are the engines who drive our economy forward,” said Ralph Ross, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Every year we honor them during Small Business Week, and this year we have an extra reason to celebrate. The Kentucky unemployment rate has dropped to 5.1 percent, and demand for SBA loans has increased 30 percent over last year. Our Kentucky entrepreneurs are hard at work, and we cannot thank them enough.”
The Lexington chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners strives to propel female entrepreneurs to spheres of economic, social and political influence through strengthening economic development, creating innovative and effective changes in the business culture, building strategic alliances and transforming public policies.
Their Winners’ Circle Award is presented annually to a Kentucky woman who has shown outstanding leadership, financial stamina and control, contributed to her community through time and resources, understands and resolves complex issues, and is dedicated to furthering women in business through personal support and mentoring. The 2015 recipient is Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, past president of the American Medical Association and a Lexington-based infectious disease physician.
The chapter also presented the following awards:
• Woman Business Owner of the Year: Dr. Jennifer Fuson, owner of Lexington Women’s Health
• Member of the Year: Karen Boone, owner of Kreations by Karen
• Tribute Award: Ericka Harney, executive director of Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance
• Rising Star Award: Kelly King Bakehorn, owner and president of The Grand Reserve and The Barrel House
• Legacy Award: Kathy Gornik, president and CEO of Aperture Consulting
“With the latest census statistics showing that the majority of all workers in America are employed by small-business owners, we are reminded that small-business owners are the true unsung heroes of our times,” said Janey Moores, NAWBO Lexington chapter awards coordinator. “That same census also shows that women now own at least a third of all businesses in the U.S. As more and more women follow the dreams of their hearts by owning their own businesses, America grows stronger by the day and remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 15 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .
Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-7668
UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.