Four of the region’s top small business owners and entrepreneurs in Southern and Eastern Kentucky have been named 2015 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award (EIEA) winners.
This year’s EIEA winners and finalists in their respective categories are:
- Young Entrepreneur: Aaron Roberts, owner, Yard Farmers, LLC, Somerset
Roberts started Yard Farmers, a complete grounds maintenance company, in 2005 at the age of 15 with one tractor and bush hog. Ten years later, the entrepreneur has six full-time employees and picked up one of his largest contracts ever in 2014 managing grounds maintenance for a 14,000-acre facility in Central Kentucky.
Finalists: Kelsey Sebastian, owner, Kelsey’s on Main, in downtown Jackson in Breathitt County; and Abby Scott, team leader, Lake Cumberland Kids, Somerset.
- Not-For-Profit Entity: Dr. Eric Loy, chief executive officer/medical director, Cumberland Family Medical Center, Inc., Burkesville
Cumberland Family Medical Center originated from a grassroots effort to provide better healthcare delivery to one of the most under served areas of Kentucky. Today, the medical center is a thriving community healthcare network with 25 clinic locations, approximately 60 medical providers, and 300 employees.
Finalists: Joe Crawford, executive director, Estill County 21st Century, (dba Estill Development Alliance); and Dr. David Snow, director, Kentucky Innovation Network, Pikeville office.
- Start-Up Business: Lidia Godbey, owner/fitness instructor, Turn It Up Dance & Fitness Studio, Somerset
Godbey started her dance and fitness studio in 2013 with a simple goal to unite the community through dance and be a physical, spiritual, and emotional blessing to others.
Finalists: Kim Gardner, owner, Class 101: College Finance and Planning Eastern Kentucky, Berea; and Blaine Staat, co-owner, Staat’s Bakery, Liberty.
- For-Profit Business: Garry Conley, owner/president, Minuteman Press of London.
Conley started Minuteman Press in April of 2004 with one offset press. Eleven years later, the business continues to grow and has added wide format posters and banners, promotional products, and direct mail to its growing list of customer services.
Finalists are Debbie Dutton, owner, Life is Sweet Café, Somerset; and Theresa Chambers, owner, Starwood Mountain, Inc., Manchester.
“All of these business owners are to be commended for their efforts,” Brett Traver, EIEA chair and executive director of Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) Corp., said. “It takes a lot of hard work and faith in yourself to become an entrepreneur. It is a pleasure to recognize all these people bring to their communities through EIEA.”
The 2015 EIEA program was held on Monday, Sept. 14, at The Center for Rural Development. Dr. Tom Erekson, dean of EKU College of Business and Technology, was the program emcee.
EIEA is presented by Eastern Kentucky University College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) Corp., and The Center for Rural Development.