Kentucky’s Economic Gardening Program Off To A Productive Start

  • By creekmoremarketing
  • 31 Jul, 2015

In April of 2014, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center in partnership with the   Community and Economic Development Initiative in Kentucky   launched the   Grow Kentucky program   and received overwhelming interest from throughout the Commonwealth. The center and initiative are part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Typically a region’s economic growth is based on attracting new large scale companies, often via offers of tax incentives and workforce development services. By contrast, Grow Kentucky focuses on aiding established growth-oriented companies with strategic issues such as developing new markets, refining business models and accessing competitive intelligence. Small businesses with longevity and a goal to expand are often referred to as second stage businesses. Such companies generally engage 10 to 99 employees and generate from one to 50 million dollars in annual revenues.

Jamie and Steve Bryant, owners of , a book packaging company based in Covington, KY were among those with a piqued interest in the new program. The Bryant’s company had the potential, it was direction they needed.

As a small business with a small staff, we are often so focused on execution that, despite our best intentions, we are unable to map a clear path to growth. Even when we know what we want to do, we often lack access to the information that will help us make the best strategic decisions.

– Jamie Bryant,

Knowing that information is the new currency of economic development, the Grow Kentucky network acquires advanced business intelligence tools that second stage companies either can’t afford on their own or are not aware of. The program specialists assist in the four key areas of information: strategic market research, social media marketing, search engine optimization and geographic information systems.

Our business is unique in that it is comprised of very different parts. We publish  Kiki magazine  for tween and teen girls, and we develop educational products – books, workbooks, assessments – for major U.S. academic publishers. Through the Grow Kentucky process we’ve started to get a real sense of how to develop each side of the business, how and where to invest resources.

– Jamie Bryant,

Grow Kentucky specialists function as an extension of the companies they work with, identifying issues that are hindering growth and connecting them with the new tools, concepts and information for making decisions that lead to successful expansion. Open communications are essential during the initial meetings between entrepreneurs and the specialists. Learning the owners’ background, company structure, goals and growth issues all combine to provide actionable information for the companies. There is constant contact throughout this ongoing relationship which leads to the other key component of the program – speed – and getting the answers business owners need in hours versus days or weeks.

Since our start in the program we’ve gained a better understanding of how to use specific information to make better strategic choices. It’s important for us to understand where the best opportunities are so we can focus our efforts appropriately. The Grow Kentucky program is helping us do that – and do that better than we have in the past.

– “Jamie

Grow Kentucky is a customized set of tools that bore into a company’s products, services and competitors, and delivers valuable insights for achieving strategic growth. The program’s services merge an assessment and advice on core business strategies, and the management team to provide “the big picture” strategy for successful growth.

Nationally, Economic Gardening client companies have averaged a 20% positive revenue growth as a result of their participation in the program. The center and initiative staffs are certified as Economic Gardening specialists for Kentucky by the Lowe Foundation. A typical program engagement takes from four to six weeks and is usually conducted through face-to-face meetings and/or teleconferencing.

We’ve derived tremendous benefit from the program and we’re only part of the way through it. We would tell another small business owner considering the program to sign up right away so they can gain access to the information and tools usually just out of reach, and learn how to put them to good use, then that small business can grow into a midsize one!

– Jamie Bryant,

Learn How GrowKentucky Can Help Your Business

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration.  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.

Announcements Articles Events Press Releases Success Stories Technology

Recent Posts
By Robbi Meisel 21 Mar, 2017
WASHINGTON – Kentucky businesses and residents affected by severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winds and hail from Feb. 28 through March 1, 2017 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA Administrator Linda E. McMahon announced today.

McMahon made the loans available in response to a letter on March 16 from Michael E. Dossett, Authorized Representative of Gov. Matthew Bevin, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The declaration covers Estill County and the adjacent counties of Clark, Jackson, Lee, Madison and Powell in Kentucky.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Kentucky with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said McMahon. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

The Center is located in the following community and is open as indicated:
Estill County
Estill Development Alliance
177 Broadway Street
Irvine, Kentucky 40336

Opening: Thursday, March 23
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Days: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Closed: Sunday, March 26
Closing: Thursday, March 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may now include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.15 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at .

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing Loan applications can also be downloaded at . Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is May 19, 2017 . The deadline for economic injury applications is Dec. 20, 2017.

For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit their website at .
By Robbi Meisel 27 Feb, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.

KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:

         ·  Privately held

         · In business for three or more years

         · Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner

         ·  Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000

         · Located and headquartered in Kentucky

         ·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.

Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:

         · Growth in the number of employees

         ·Increase in sales and/or unit volume

         · Innovativeness of the product or service

         ·Response to adversity

         ·Employee engagement and commitment

         ·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects

Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.

Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at .

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 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, .


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.




By Robbi Meisel 20 Feb, 2017
MURRAY, Ky., (Feb. 2017) — Chris Wooldridge, Kentucky Small Business Development Center district director for the Murray State University SBDC and Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, has joined the board of directors of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry.

FKI is a statewide, not-for-profit, with the goal of strengthening manufacturing in Kentucky, a very important economic driver in the commonwealth. FKI’s Board of Directors is comprised of manufacturing, education, economic development and public policy leaders.
Project and program partners currently include LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow), JPMorgan Chase, KY FAME (Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education), business and public partners.

“We are pleased to announce Chris Wooldridge, District Director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at the Murray State University Bauernfeind College of Business, will be joining the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Kentucky Industry. Mr. Wooldridge’s experience and expertise regarding business and economic development will be a great asset to the Foundation’s work of maximizing career opportunities for both Kentuckians and industry in 21st century manufacturing,” according to Mary C. Breeding, President and CEO, Foundation for Kentucky Industry (FKI).

About Murray State University SBDC: Murray State University hosts the West Kentucky Region of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center program.  KSBDC is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state that helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. The KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, .
More Posts
Share by: