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Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards given to small business owners and entrepreneurs

For Southern and Eastern Kentucky

SOMERSET, Ky. (Sept. 15, 2015) — The 2015 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program recognized 12 of the region’s top small business owners and entrepreneurs and announced this year’s EIEA award winners on Monday at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

eiaThe EIEA program—honoring excellence in entrepreneurship since 2001—promotes and recognizes entrepreneurs who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit by creating and managing a successful business venture or nonprofit organization in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

This year’s EIEA winners and top 12 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 a 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 underserved 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. 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 launched Minuteman Press in 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: 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,” said 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 EIEA program recognized the 2015 Collegiate Business Concept Challenge winner, Eastern Kentucky University student Emily Watson and her faculty advisor Karen Rudick.

Also recognized was this year’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) winning team, “The Casers: Safe Cell.” Each will receive a Presidential Scholarship offer (valued at $3,500 per academic year for up to eight semesters) from EKU.

ELI team members and high school students Hunter Davis, Wayne County; Breece Hayes, Casey County; Shawna Holbrook, Floyd County; and William “Mason” Miller of Harlan County, developed a business concept for a germ-free cell phone cover.

Awards are presented by the Eastern Kentucky University College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation and The Center for Rural Development.