Innovate Logo 500HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (1/27/2014) – From Wikipedia: Entrepreneur (i/ˌɒntrəprəˈnɜr/), is a loanword from French. It is defined as an individual who organizes or operates a business or businesses.

We think of an entrepreneur as an innovator, inventor, and risk taker. The novice entrepreneur usually has more “good ideas” than cash and operates on a “shoestring”.

Historically, entrepreneurial businesses were not of particular interest to economic development agencies.

And, getting a bank loan? Forget it!

But these are changing times.

Economic Development directors and communities are looking at ways to encourage “Home Grown Businesses”.

These businesses provide the bulk of new jobs without the “Boom-Bust” of big manufacturing.

Banks are realizing that there is opportunity for growth with the entrepreneurial start up; and, by sharing risk, growth opportunities are realized.

These opportunities are being seized in Hopkins County.

Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Madisonville Community College, Murray State University, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Small Business Administration, Community Ventures Corporation, Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce, Madisonville-Hopkins County Minority Economic Development Council, Inc., Pennyrile Area Development District and Junior Achievement of West Kentucky work with five local banks to build capacity of local entrepreneurs to innovate and compete in the global economy through the establishment of an entrepreneur growth program.

The program will attempt to find budding entrepreneurs; and, to cultivate a local business climate that is encouraging and supportive of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Once the entrepreneurs are found, the raw dreams will be transformed into a business plan that is marketable and sustainable.

It will be a plan that is bankable and worthy of local banks providing venture capital.

A venture loan program called “Hopkins County Ventures”: To build capacity of local entrepreneurs to innovate and compete in the global economy through the establishment of an entrepreneur growth program.

To be considered the following qualifications must be met:

  • The business must be in located in Hopkins County.
  • The business must be for profit.
  • Pursuing a loan for business start‐up, expansion of a current business, purchase of a franchise or the purchase of an existing business.
  • The minimum loan amount is $5,000.
  • Use of funds must be for: working capital, inventory, leasehold improvements, or equipment (for commercial use only).

A myriad of possibilities to further enhance entrepreneurship is being considered.

The question remains, "How to identify these individuals and what can community services do to improve the survival rate of small businesses."

The group is undaunted and is forging ahead under the able watch care of Ruthann Padgett.

Here is more of the plan:

  • Partner with Murray State University to promote “The Next Big Thing” competition in Hopkins County designed to give students in grades nine through 12 an entrepreneurial experience in launching new innovative products or ideas.
  • “Shark Tank / Business Plan” Competition to foster a spirit of innovation through a competition among potential entrepreneurs within Hopkins County, the competition will be held in the Spring of 2015.
  • 1 Million Cups (1MC) is a simple way to engage entrepreneurs. Each week, the 1MC program offers two local entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their startups to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors and entrepreneurs. Presenters prepare a six-minute educational presentation and engage in 20 minutes of feedback and questioning after they present.
  • Who Owns the Icehouse is a facilitator training program that will be offered at the Madisonville Community College.
  • Develop Entrepreneur Week in Hopkins County-Entrepreneur Week will take place the week before Thanksgiving in 2014.
  • Host an Innovation luncheon to recognize outstanding Hopkins County entrepreneurs.
  • Develop awards that recognize individual or companies who have been instrumental in furthering entrepreneur growth and entrepreneurial spirit in Hopkins County.
  • Create a mentoring program for entrepreneurs-Match seasoned entrepreneurs with new entrepreneurs for the purpose of sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise.
  • Regional network for entrepreneur specialists-Provide an environment for entrepreneur specialists to share resources, training opportunities, legislative updates and collaboration.

Given the impediments to business survival in Kentucky and Hopkins County and Madisonville, it will be a big job.

Kentucky is not ranked as a top place to operate a business. The insurance premium tax and occupational taxes in addition to all other taxes, fees and regulations give pause to selecting Madisonville and Hopkins County as the best place to start a business.

Hopkins County Ventures 300

Ron Sanders
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