The Harlan County Economic Development Authority spent the bulk of a recent meeting hearing presentations about services aimed at helping small business get off the ground.
Gordon Garrett, Assistant Director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, addressed the panel.
“Our program is basically an economic development entity that focuses on business development activities for small to medium sized businesses,” said Garrett. “Through that, we do a lot of one on one consulting with clients to help them get loan packages together.”
Garrett said the Center is based at the University of Kentucky with offices in 15 other locations across the state, including Middlesboro.
He said he asked KSBDC Director Allison Davis to attend the meeting as well.
“I think the two of us together probably stand a better chance of tackling some of your problems in Harlan County,” Garrett said as he handed the floor over to Davis.
Davis told the authority one of the goals is to get communities to focus on their assets.
“I want to give you an idea of what we do,” Davis said. “This first (program) is called “First Impressions.” It’s one of my favorite programs.”
According to Davis, First Impressions is essentially an assessment program in which “secret shoppers” visit the community to gauge the viability of the community for specific endeavors.
“We just did one in Pulaski,” Davis said. “They are interested in attracting retirees as well as young professionals.”
Davis said they sent in four retirees and four young professionals in to assess the community.
“We gave them money for food and told them to go at it,” Davis said. “From that, they provide the community with an outside perspective…about what’s going on. It’s really well received.”
Davis said this is a very good way to get a perspective on how a community looks to outsiders.
Davis said the next step involves business expansion and retention.
“This is at the community level,” Davis said. “It’s a community based program that will work with local businesses…essentially it’s doing an interview and survey…trying to identify what are the current obstacles or opportunities for growth.”
Garrett said KSBDC also sends consultants to help local business with marketing, store layout, advertising and other aspects of business.
Anybody who would like additional information can contact the KSBDC at (877) 592-4946 or go to the organizations website at http://www.ksbdc.org/home
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde