University of Pikeville joins Kentucky Innovation Network

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - An announcement made on, Wednesday, at the University of Pikeville is all about innovation and moving forward.

Officials say small businesses are the backbone of a strong economy, so they want to do everything possible to help those with ideas turn them into a reality.

Larry Hayes, Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development says, "Someone said we need to quit looking down and look up at what we can be...that is what this announcement is about today."

Last year, the Kentucky Innovation Network supported more than 400 companies...creating more than 1,000 jobs.

On Wednesday, officials announced the network's newest office will be in Pikeville.

The Pikeville office will work to support entrepreneurs in nine Eastern Kentucky counties including Pike, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Magoffin, Knott, Perry, Letcher, and Breathitt.

Mandy Lambert, Commissioner of business development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development says, "The network assists entrepreneurs at every stage; helping them plan, build, and launch their dream."

The Cabinet of Economic Development is providing $175,000 to start the office. An amount the university is pledging to match, creating the Appalachian Business Opportunity Endowment.

President James Hurley says, "Will be a pool of money for potential investors and entrepreneuers to tap into to create those small businesses, because the startup phase is the most costly."

Students say access to the network provides them with tools necessary to continue moving forward with their dreams

Business student, Andrea Robinette says, "I can't think of a better way to really push forward the innovation and entrepreneural spirit that we've had going on here since the opening of the Coleman College of Business."

Jean Hale, chairman, president and CEO or Community Trust Bancorp says, "We have a tremendous resource in the people in Eastern Kentucky that we need to cultivate. They need the opportunities to bring forward their ideas and turn them into business that not only creates employment but also makes money."

Officials say having the network in Pikeville creates a firm foundation for individuals as well as the entire region to move forward.

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