April 10, 2002 | By: Haven Miller

Two University of Kentucky colleges have joined forces to provide new economic growth opportunities for Kentucky's communities.

The College of Agriculture and its Cooperative Extension Service, and the Gatton College of Business and its Kentucky Small Business Development Center have formalized an agreement to combine resources to help small business and agri-business development. The partnering of ongoing development efforts of UK's 120 county Extension offices with KSBDC's regional outreach efforts will create a stronger, more coordinated program of building sustainable communities.

The partnership, which has operated informally in certain areas for many years, was formalized during a recent signing ceremony involving both college's deans and the KSBDC state director.

"The missions of our two organizations are complementary, and are united under this memorandum of understanding to serve the people of our state," said Becky Naugle, KSBDC director.

Cooperative Extension agents throughout the state will now coordinate with KSBDC staff to foster business leadership and entrepreneurship at the local level.

"This partnership is devoted to entrepreneurship, and holds great promise for the future of our Commonwealth," said Richard Furst, dean of UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Scott Smith, dean of UK's College of Agriculture, said the partnership will become increasingly important as rural Kentuckians continue to deal with changes in farming and rural economics.

"We recognize that the formation of partnerships such as this are essential to the success of our county agents at the local level, and this agreement affirms our commitment to Kentucky's people," said Smith.

Initiatives included under the partnership include examining new ways to market products, helping develop alternative enterprises, developing training programs, assisting people create business plans, helping build new local infrastructures for agricultural products, and encouraging development of home-based businesses.

"One new initiative that's received ag development funding will offer in-depth agricultural entrepreneurship training for people who are at that stage," said Betty King, community and economic development coordinator in UK's department of agricultural economics. "We're also conducting a series of short courses called 全mart Steps to Smart Choices' to help people explore ideas for their small business or agricultural business."

The signing ceremony which formalized the partnership took place on the UK campus in Lexington.