Entrepreneurs Recognized at EIEA Luncheon
Entrepreneurs are innovators, creative thinkers, and risk takers often defying the odds to turn their dreams into reality. Small business owners and entrepreneurs working to grow the region’s economy were recognized at the 2014 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) luncheon.
The 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 award winners for Young Entrepreneur, Start-Up Business, For Profit Small Business, and Not-for-Profit Entity were announced on Sept. 8 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.
“The ingenuity and drive of our local business owners have resulted in good jobs, successful operations, and greater opportunities for the people of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, and I commend all of this year’s award winners and finalists,” said U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), a longtime supporter of the EIEA program. “Our region is more poised than ever before for growth and diversity. The SOAR initiative has prompted healthy discussion across county lines about business recruitment and development to help shape our future, and it’s our entrepreneurs who are leading the way."
The 2014 EIEA award winners and top 12 finalists in their respective business categories are:
Young Entrepreneur: Shane Hamilton, owner, Service Maids Inc., a professional residential cleaning service, Garrett, Ky. At 19, Shane started the business from money he saved from selling items at flea markets and festivals and rebuilding dirt bikes. Finalists:
- Robert Hicks, managing director, Indiview Media, LLC, Somerset, Ky., and
- Jordan Meece, owner, Aqua 41, Liberty, Ky.
Start-Up Business: Greg Drury, owner, Harlan’s Coal Fired Pizza (dba The Portal), a nostalgic, vintage-themed restaurant, Harlan, Ky. The first-time restaurant owner was looking for a new business venture in 2012 when he decided to open The Portal in downtown Harlan. The restaurant pays tribute to Harlan’s rich heritage in coal production. Finalists:
- Ronald and Caira Aldridge, owners, In-Range Archery, Richmond, Ky., and
- Brian McElroy, owner, Russell County Farm Store, LLC, Russell Springs, Ky.
For Profit Small Business: Mark Gumbert, CEO/Principal Biologist, Copperhead Environmental Consulting, Inc., an environmental consulting firm specializing in environmental regulatory compliance and ecological inventories, Paint Lick, Ky.The Garrard County-based consulting firm is on the cutting edge of endangered bat research and is the only known company to successfully track complete migration movements of bats with an airplane. Finalists:
- Brook Ping, real estate developer, Stonebrook Development, Somerset, Ky., and
- Kelly Upchurch, president and CEO, American Health Management, Inc., Richmond, Ky.
Not-For-Profit Entity: Cassie Hudson, executive director, Partnership Housing, Inc., Booneville, Ky. The Owsley County nonprofit corporation assists low-income families and individuals to purchase, build, or repair homes utilizing funds from various financial institutions and lending agencies. Finalists:
- Adrienne Bush, executive director, Hazard-Perry County Community Ministries, Hazard, Ky., and
- Thomas Manning-Beavin, president, Southern Tier Housing Cooperation, London, Ky.
The EIEA program also recognized Eastern Kentucky University student Collin Elrod, the winner of this year’s Collegiate Business Concept Competition, and business advisor Kevin Cumiskey. The international business student pitched a business idea for a ramen noodle restaurant as an alternative to traditional fast foods.
“Many of our largest and most successful companies can be traced to one individual who possessed the passion and persistence to turn a dream into a reality,” said Dr. Michael T. Benson, president of Eastern Kentucky University and EIEA program emcee. “We should all be encouraged that, in spite of many challenges, the entrepreneurial spirit that built this nation is alive and well in Eastern and Southern Kentucky today, embodied in these EIEA award recipients and nominees, among others.
“Eastern Kentucky University is proud to serve this region and co-sponsor this important annual event,” Benson added, “and we will continue to work alongside our many partners and create a pathway to success that even future generations can follow.”
The EIEA program is sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED), and The Center for Rural Development.
Published on September 08, 2014