November 12, 2003 | By: Haven Miller

In an era of declining tobacco income, many Kentucky communities are seeking ways to add businesses and jobs.  One of the ways to accomplish that is to coordinate local efforts to encourage “entrepreneurship.”  

“An entrepreneur is someone who assumes the risk of starting a business enterprise, and so entrepreneurship has to do with determining market risks, identifying potential customers and developing a business plan,” said Ron Hustedde, Extension professor in the University of Kentucky Department of Community and Leadership Development.

According to Hustedde, one of the most critical components of successful entrepreneurship is opening lines of communication between community leaders in both private and public sectors, and identifying individuals who have a reputation for encouraging entrepreneurial development.

“Along with identifying key people, successful entrepreneurship may also include a survey of business development and economic diversification within a county or region, and might also incorporate a training program for individuals or institutions wanting to expand or explore new business ventures,” he said.

Such a project is now under way in 19 counties of northeast Kentucky.  Funded through a $1.3 million grant from Kentucky’s Agricultural Development Board, the project is coordinated by Hustedde; Eric Scorsone, assistant Extension professor, and Larry Jones, Extension professor, both in UK’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

The project’s main objective is to facilitate development of a climate or culture that will lead to new business ideas and ventures in Bath, Bracken, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Grant, Greenup, Harrison, Lawrence, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Morgan, Nicholas, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Rowan and Wolfe counties. 

The effort will begin with a review and inventory of entrepreneurship in the region.  Then a series of meetings will bring together local farmers and leaders with the Agricultural Development Board, county councils, chambers of commerce and area development districts. The meetings will identify new business ideas for economic diversification.

“We’ll also develop training programs for selected leaders in the region that will cover such topics as creating a business plan, financing new businesses, increasing entrepreneurs, and developing agro-tourism,” said Eric Scorsone, UK agricultural economist.

Scorsone said one of the intended results of the project is to promote more cooperation among tobacco-dependent counties and to create more business start-ups.

It’s estimated that more than 1,500 farm families, citizens and community leaders in the 19-county area will benefit from the project during its first year.


Source: Ron Hustedde, 859-257-3186