Home » USDA grant will help Madison, Estill, Owsley counties develop business networks, strategies

USDA grant will help Madison, Estill, Owsley counties develop business networks, strategies

From left, CEDET Technical Training Specialist Virginia Shoemaker, Thomas Fern, state director of USDA Rural Development and Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler inspect items at the Barnes and Noble @ EKU campus bookstore that were crafted by Owsley Countians.

RICHMOND, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2012) — The Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at Eastern Kentucky University will use a $58,000 Rural Business Enterprise Development Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist Madison, Estill and Owsley Counties.

Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler and Thomas Fern, state director of USDA Rural Development, were on the Richmond campus Oct. 17 to make the announcement. EKU President Doug Whitlock and CEDET Director Ian Mooers also spoke at the announcement ceremony.

Utilizing the USDA grant funds, Virginia Shoemaker, CEDET technical training specialist, will develop business networks, market penetration tactics and online business strategy training in the three counties.

A network already has been established between Owsley County crafters and the Barnes and Noble at EKU bookstore, where several handmade items from the county are available for purchase. Additional products from craftspeople in Madison and Estill counties will be added over the next year.

Mooers also noted that CEDET will be assisting with website development for nearly 200 members of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce who do not currently have web sites.

“Not only is Eastern providing an outstanding education to students, but programs such as the one being announced today are providing on-the-ground opportunities for the people to find jobs,” Chandler said.  “This federal program is a perfect example how job opportunities can be created locally. The very best type of economic development is the kind that begins with your people.”

Whitlock said the program exemplifies the University’s commitment to regional stewardship.

“Many of you have heard me say that at Eastern Kentucky University, we are committed to preparing students to lead productive, responsible and enriched lives, and that we will do so through our three goals of student success, regional stewardship, and by graduating students who are informed, critical and creative thinkers who can communicate effectively,” Whitlock said. “I can’t think of a better example of regional stewardship than the program we announce today.”

For more information about CEDET, visit cedet.eku.edu.