Small businesses have access to a wide range of resources through the state Cabinet for Economic Development.
In March, experts from the cabinet will host a free three-hour seminar at the FIVCO Area Development District office, to educate small business owners and entrepreneurs on the resources available to them. It will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on March 21.
The “Kentucky: Here We Grow” seminars will visit all 15 of the state’s development districts over the next six months. Registration is free and at the door.
“These seminars provide a great opportunity for business owners to get their arms around the wealth of programs that can help grow their businesses, whether start ups or existing operations,” said Larry Hayes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development. “The Cabinet and its partners are able to assist small businesses with everything from exporting, to accessing loans, tax credits, and government procurement to almost everything in between.”
The federal government defines a small business as any business with 500 or fewer employees, but 90 percent of small business in Kentucky have 50 or fewer employees.
Small businesses employ 48 percent of the private sector workforce and account for more than 96 percent of all employers.
According to the 2010 Census, there are approximately 1,399 small businesses in Boyd County including 1,331 with fewer than 50 employees. Carter County had 404 small businesses with 392 with 50 or fewer employees while Greenup County had 498 small businesses with 482 smaller than 50 employees.
“About nine out of 10 businesses in Kentucky are small businesses, so this is something that can provide tremendous support to a large portion of our economy,” said Mark Johnson, assistant director of the Cabinet’s Small Business Services Division.
Daniel Lowry, a spokesman for the cabinet, said amount the programs cabinet officials will discuss is the Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative. It was designed to help an approved lender make a loan to a small business that it may not have been able to lend to. It has funded over $20 million in loans by providing a little over $2 million in support.
According to officials, every county has at least three lenders participating in the program and may have as many as five lenders servicing it.
Attendees will also learn how to access funding that can help them investigate and break into foreign markets. Through the Kentucky Export Initiative, approved companies can receive State Trade Export Promotion grant money to increase export activities. The KEI initiative is a consortium of trade and business promotion organizations across the state and is part of a three-year pilot program launched by the federal Small Business Administration Act of 2010. It aims to increase the value of exports for companies that are already shipping their goods overseas.
“Most large companies have the resources and expertise to market overseas, but these grants are designed to help the smaller companies sell their Kentucky-made products to the world. The result is increased sales and business growth, which means more jobs, in turn making a stronger economy for all of us,” said Hayes.
Kentucky’s exported $18.4 billion in goods and services in the first 10 months of 2012, up 9.9 percent from the previous year. Last year, the exports ranked Kentucky 19th in the nation for total exports and 11th for a per capita basis. They added $4.6 billion to the gross domestic product in the state and created 47,000 jobs according to the CED.
There are also programs available for innovative, technology-based businesses.
Sherry McDavid, executive director of FIVCO, said the agency was pleased to be able to host the session. Many local small businesses are operated by one or two individuals who can not afford to shutter their businesses for a day to travel a long distance to a seminar.
“Anytime we can get the folks from Frankfort to come here and educate and assist them it is a positive thing,” she said. “I think our small businesses should have access to any resources and asset that is available to them.”
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.