A partnership between two regional nonprofits and funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) created a training program that has breathed new life into some Eastern Kentucky businesses and given others a competitive edge.
Ten businesses created 66 new jobs and added to their bottom lines with an additional $13 million in new contracts, thanks to their completion of the Southeast Kentucky Business Quality Certification Program (QCP).
The QCP is a two-year partnership between Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp. (SKED) and Advantage Kentucky Alliance (AKA). The nonprofits combined their efforts to train several of the region’s manufacturers, enabling them to earn the certifications they need to compete globally.
The program’s success is seen in the participating companies’ growth. Some saw continued progress and development – adding to their bottom lines. Others experienced an impact that changed their futures. All have benefited from the program.
Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers congratulated the program’s partners on its results, saying, “This new Quality Certification Program brings an added stamp of approval to our workforce in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. It’s proof that our businesses are diligently working to make sure they are fully prepared for expanded opportunities. I applaud SKED, AKA, and the ARC for giving our businesses the tools they need to be more competitive, which in turn creates more jobs for people in our region.”
Funding for the program was provided by a $200,000 grant from the ARC. Participating business owners were required to supply a 20% match to receive the services. Twelve companies received counseling and training services.
Locally, Highlands Diversified of Laurel County added 45 jobs while Karr Industries of Whitley County managed to retain two positions. J&M Tool Grinding, also of Whitley County, added one new position.
SKED Executive Director Brett Traver says the program, an outgrowth of the Supplier Education & Economic Development (SEED) program, was projected to create 30 new jobs, but the participating business owners have more than doubled that number and invested millions of dollars back into the region.
“We are thankful for our partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission,” Traver said. “The success of this SEED program is continuing to grow with the continued funding through an ARC POWER Grant. This successful program is another example of how bringing the right partners together can help create manufacturing job opportunities in our region.”
The AKA is a statewide, nonprofit partnership that provides assistance and training to help manufacturers of all sizes grow, improve their manufacturing and business strategies and processes, adopt advanced technologies, increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve competitiveness. Center Director Scott Broughton leads the organization.
Kelly is KY’s SBA 2020 Small Business Advocate
Amanda Kelly is Kentucky’s U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2020 Small Business Advocate.
Kelly, Small Business Training Director for the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, is among seven men and women honored for their work in the small business community this year, according to a news release from the SBA’s Kentucky District Office this week.
September 22-24, 2020, is SBA National Small Business Week. On September 22, SBA announced the 2020 National Small Business Person of the Year from individual winners represented across the U.S. and other national award winners at a virtual ceremony.
The Pulaski County resident is honored for her work nurturing the entrepreneurial environment in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, as the director of SKED’s Entrepreneurial SMARTS program the digital marketing course Be Boss Online.