The Kentucky Small Business Development Center provides consulting and training services to existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs.
Despite some economic pessimism in Eastern Kentucky recently, new businesses are finding ways to succeed.
Fifteen regional small business owners, entrepreneurs and non-profits were recognized today for their successful business accomplishments and for helping to grow the state's economy during the 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards.
The awards were sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University's College of Business and Technology, the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and the Center for Rural Development.
The awards recognized business excellence in five categories, including Large Business, Small Business, Non-Profit, Start-up Business and Student.
This year's winner in the Start-up Business category says it was an uphill climb when their business started three years ago.
"It was a tremendous challenge. We started up right when everything faltered, and so it was great to have it come along. We had a great group of people, great ownership, great management to help us out," said Shane Richmond, owner of Wildcat Harley Davidson in London.
The President of Eastern Kentucky University says it's important to recognize people like Richmond.
"They're great examples and offer great encouragement to others who are contemplating taking the risk that being an entrepreneuring business requires."
President Whitlock says the awards underscore the important relationship between higher education and entrepreneurship.
"One of the ways we can raise educational attainment levels in places in Kentucky where they're not as high as we would like is to provide more employment opportunities for college graduates," said Whitlock.
Whitlock says another important reason to celebrate business success is to raise confidence in the economic recovery.
Other finalists include Juggling Jared in Pineville and LowGap Outfitters in Hindman.