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Young Entrepreneur award winner Hong R. Zhang Durandal, holding certificate, is honored at an EIEA Hometown Event.

Small business entrepreneur Hong R. Zhang Durandal—winner of the 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship’s “Young Entrepreneur” award —is working to bring high-skilled “green” jobs to Eastern Kentucky.

Durandal, founder and president, started Energy Hunters LLC as a way to save both energy and money, and create jobs in Appalachia. Energy Hunters, based in Berea, Ky., provides the retrofit housing market, commercial market, and new homes with Energy Saving Opportunities Reports (ESOR), including cost and benefit statements and actionable plans to reduce energy usage for middle income households in Madison County and the surrounding region.

“Energy Hunters is my passion in life,” said Durandal, who was honored recently as one of the region’s top entrepreneurs. “I have made a commitment to provide jobs and create economic development in the region that I treasure very much.”

While Energy Hunters is just getting started, the small business has created jobs for five individuals, completed more than 35 home energy evaluations, and is working on a major housing project.

“The future seems promising with a new region to expand and a market that is getting ready for more energy-efficiency efforts,” Durandal said. “It took a lot of determination, strategic thinking, and strong character to forge a small enterprise to thrive in the heart of Appalachia.”

Durandal was recognized for his work as an entrepreneur at the 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) luncheon held Sept. 10 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset and again last month at an EIEA Hometown Event in Berea.

The EIEA program is sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) Corporation, and The Center.

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