Success Stories

Situation

Asian carp is an invasive species brought to the United States in the 1970s to control weeds and parasites on aquatic farms in the Southeast. This type of fish has spread rapidly and uncontrollably, particularly in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Because of its large size, voracious appetite and ability to reproduce rapidly, Asian carp have crowded out native species fish and threatened the ecology. Yongqin “Angie” Yu, a native of China, is an entrepreneur with a banking background. She has been in the import-export business in the U.S. since 1991. Ms. Yu saw the Asian carp problem as an opportunity to export the fish back to China and Taiwan, where the fish is a delicacy.

Solution: How the SBA helped

In 2012, Angie Yu moved to rural West Kentucky to open a business focused on harvesting and processing fish, then shipping the product back to Asia. She approached the Murray State University SBDC for assistance.   Ms. Yu stated, “Chris Wooldridge with... Read More

Situation

In 2013, Alejandro Ramirez retired as a U.S. Army combat officer after 22 years of military service. Mr. Ramirez started Universal Spartan, LLC in 2013, a company that provides a one-stop federal government product sourcing solution for tactical, IT, electrical and medical equipment. The company is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.     Despite the experience and contacts, company revenues grew slowly. Sales were mostly to individuals through e-commerce, not to federal agencies.

Solution: How the SBA helped

Mr. Ramirez connected with the University of Kentucky SBDC in Elizabethtown, near the Ft. Knox Army Base where Mr. Ramirez had served.  The SBDC helped him develop a business plan and financial projections for the business.   Before retiring, Mr. Ramirez also participated in the SBA Boots to Business program and later participated as a guest speaker for the program at Ft. Knox.   Mr. Ramirez had sought advice from the SBDC on how to grow... Read More

Situation:

Larry and Jeanne Kirk had a dream to own a casual, full service restaurant specializing in traditional American cuisine with a southern flair. The Kirks began to renovate a historical home in downtown Owensboro, KY that had fallen into disrepair. The Kirks purchased the home in 2006 with plans to restore its former glamour, but just as construction was to start in 2007, a tornado hit. This caused extensive damage to the property.

Solution: How the SBA helped

The Kirks connected with Lois Decker, Center Director for the Murray State University SBDC in Owensboro. Ms. Decker helped them develop a business plan and financial projections for the business. The Kirks used this information to obtain an SBA 504 loan.   Repairs and restoration took another two years. However, Ms. Decker helped the Kirks successfully open the restaurant in 2009. As the business grew and incurred other obstacles, including a severe... Read More

Situation:

Lesme Romero came to the U.S. from Venezuela to continue his education. He met Reinaldo Gonzalez in college. With similar backgrounds, they became friends and roommates. They cooked together, often making pasta. After college, they went separate ways but stayed in touch. During a visit, Lesme and Reinaldo, who had become a chef, decided to launch a pasta business called EZ Foods, Inc. in Lexington, KY. The original location was a one-car garage. They quickly outgrew the space and relocated to a small street-level retail site with a tiny manufacturing center in the basement to produce pasta. Their first order was for 20 pounds of pasta and took 20 hours to make. The countertop pasta machine they purchased was insufficient for the orders.

Solution: How the SBA helped: 

In 2013, the owners contacted the Lexington SBDC for assistance. The SBDC helped them streamline production and develop a business plan to... Read More

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