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  • 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 the SBDC worked with me extensively in developing a business plan on how to start and scale my company.”
  • The SBDC also helped her find $560,000 in funding for the company.
  • As the first exporter of Asian carp in Kentucky, Two Rivers Fisheries experience exporting challenges. Chris Wooldridge and state export officials worked to resolve the issue quickly through the U.S. Department of Commerce, helping the company avoid payment penalties or return product.  
  • All was going well – then the pandemic hit in 2020. Angie applied for and received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. She stated, “The PPP and EIDL helped us keep our employees working.” 

Successful Impact/Outcome

  • Two Rivers Fisheries, Inc. has contracted with 35 groups of commercial fishers in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, as well as Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.
  • Angie’s company is now the biggest exporter of Asian carp in the U.S., exports product to 11 countries on three continents and sells to U.S. restaurants.
  • The company processed over 500,000 pounds of Asian carp in 2013 and has doubled its production each year. Now, they can process 200,000 pounds daily.
  • Poised for growth, the company has created 18 rural, good-paying jobs and is expanding. Angie continues to seek advice from Chris Wooldridge and the SBDC on how to manage growth.
  • Two Rivers Fisheries increased its product line and opened a fish market. Angie formed another company to sell waste products the company had previously discarded into fish fertilizer.
  • When the Asian market collapsed during the pandemic, Angie pivoted to Europe and the Middle East. She stated, “No company can succeed globally if it fails locally. So, if we cannot change the market, we must change our company.”
  • The company has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Kentucky SBDC Pacesetter Award. Angie was invited to participate as a panelist at an Exporting in a Global Market event, hosted by the Export-Import Bank.
  • Two Rivers Fisheries received an export award from the State of Kentucky and acknowledged for solving an ecological problem. Angie was also recognized as an Outstanding Exporter at the 2020 Mid-America Trade Summit.
  • The company is a member of the Kentucky Proud program, received the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Certificate as the fastest growing fresh fish exporter in the U.S. and was feature in an article by The Wall Street Journal.
  • Angie was also recognized at the Jackson Wild (formerly Jackson Hole) Film Festival for Best Conversation Film and Best People and Nature Film – Short  Story Categories.
  • Angie Yu has become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Company Name: 
Two Rivers Fisheries, Inc.
Wickliffe, KY
File Attachments: 
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Angie_Yu-Two_Rivers_Fisheries-cropped 630Kb