Supporting and growing entrepreneurism in the Lincoln Trail region

April 13, 2017

Lisa Boone

There’s no doubt entrepreneurship is essential to the Lincoln Trail region’s economy. Small business owners create jobs and increase opportunities for entire communities. That’s why I’m especially proud of the strong network of resources available to anyone in our region with a great idea for a product or service.

We know many residents of our region have innovative ideas that could grow into thriving businesses, and it’s important to our region’s economic future that those individuals find the assistance they need to successfully move toward commercialization.

Dr. Jeff Grover, of Elizabethtown, was one such entrepreneur. A retired Army Special Forces Officer and founder of Grover Group, Inc., he had developed an algorithm that parses big data. It was a viable product with a viable corporate market, but Grover needed help.

“You can’t go and knock on corporate America’s door. They won’t let you in,” Grover said. “You have to have connections.”

That’s where the annual Bucks for Bright Ideas competition helped. Grover was one of the winners of this contest – held across 32 counties in the Lincoln Trail, Bowling Green and Owensboro areas – in 2015.

One of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship, Grover said, is being a part of a collaborative community, or a network. It allows for visibility of your product or service, mentorship, investors and more.

“Bucks for Bright Ideas launched me into that network,” said Grover, adding that it led to a consulting contract with an energy company.

The 2017 Bucks for Bright Ideas competition is accepting entries until April 16. If you have a bright idea – no matter the industry or where you are in your business planning process, I encourage you to learn more about the competition at www.bucksforbrightideas.com.

As director of the Kentucky Innovation Network in Elizabethtown and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board, I can tell you that countless entrepreneurs, including Grover, have found the entrepreneurial resources available across our region and state to be essential to their success.

With that in mind, an entrepreneurial summit is set for April 28 at Fort Knox. This event will bring multiple small business experts under one roof and offer participants more than a dozen break-out sessions so they can learn more about the topics most relevant to them. The event is open to all aspiring entrepreneurs including members of the military, veterans and their spouses.

Retired Col. Darrall Henderson with the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is among the presenters. Kentucky PTAC offers free counseling services to help small business owners win local, state and federal contracts. Working with government agencies can be tedious, Henderson said, but PTAC staff makes navigating the maze of regulations easier for small businesses.

At the summit, he’ll discuss the government procurement cycle as well as required certifications.

“Everyone in industry wants to help the little guy and the only way to do that is to give him a level playing field,” said Henderson, who served 26 years in the Army.

One manner of leveling the playing field is called a set-aside.

“If enough small businesses respond credibly to a government request for information, the procurement can be set aside for small business competition only,” Henderson said. “Those small businesses don’t have to compete with the largest defense contractors.”

The PTAC program is available to small businesses throughout the commonwealth thanks to the support of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

Prospective business owners at the summit will have access to experts in a number of other areas, from business plan writing to patents to raising venture capital.

To learn more and register for the event, call 270-351-1192 or visit wku.edu/etown-ftknox/summit.php.

Lisa Boone is director of the Kentucky Innovation Network in Elizabethtown and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board, which serves Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties. She can be reached at 270-307-4214 or lisaboone.ky@gmail.com.

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.

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Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. The Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board assures compliance with the Education and Labor Cabinet’s Methods of Administration, as amended, Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Assurance and all other Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity requirements of WIOA.