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 3, 2016) - Kentucky’s finest small businesses and the small-business community were celebrated in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort during Kentucky Celebrates Small Business, an awards ceremony presented by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center and the Kentucky District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration May 3.
Gov. Matt Bevin opened the awards ceremony by signing a proclamation recognizing National Small Business Week in the state.
"The vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in the commonwealth is a fundamental force driving Kentucky's economy and creating valuable jobs for our communities," Bevin said. "I understand, from personal experience, the sacrifice it takes for small business owners to survive. Every day they strive anew to secure a better life for their customers, their employees, their families and themselves. I am grateful to these men and women across Kentucky for taking the risk necessary to succeed."
WLEX-18 chief meteorologist Bill Meck served as emcee, along with his wife, Connie, whose small business, Sign Language Network of Kentucky, provided sign language interpretation for the event.
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center presented Kentucky Pacesetter awards to six businesses. Winners were chosen based on how they 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 D&D Shoe Company, Mayfield; Ingram Brothers, LLC, Morgantown; JSB Industrial Solutions, Inc., Tollesboro; Maynard Studios, Inc., Lawrenceburg; Trunnell’s Farm Market & Family Fun Acre, Utica; Flavorman and Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Louisville.
“We owe so much to the small businesses across the commonwealth that make our economy strong and diverse. It is a pleasure to recognize them and say thank you,” said Becky Naugle, KSBDC state director.
Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes outstanding small businesses and entrepreneurs with awards across the country. The Small Business Person of the Year winner from each state will be acknowledged at both regional and national levels.
The 2016 Kentucky Small Business Administration award winners are:
Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year: David Dafoe, founder and CEO of Flavorman and Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Louisville
Kentucky Southeast Region 8(a) Graduate of the Year: Kathy Mills, president and CEO of Strategic Communications, Louisville
Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year: Bill Fensterer, president and CEO of Capital Access Corporation, Louisville
Kentucky Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year: Harsha Wijesiri, president of Integrated Engineering, LLC, Lexington
Kentucky Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year: Scott Matheny, president of Semper Tek, Lexington
Kentucky Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year: Desiree Sloan Harmon, founder and owner of Club Fit Studio, LLC, Paintsville
“The creative genius that drives our commonwealth forward lives in the minds of our entrepreneurs. This year we are honoring entrepreneurs from the far corners of Kentucky. We are deeply grateful for what they have done to sustain the economic vitality of large and small communities,” said Ralph Ross, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “We are also grateful for our local, state and federal partners who work with us to help these entrepreneurs along their way.”
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 13 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. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .
Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104
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.