SBDC Helps Rural, Immigrant, Woman Owned Business Create Jobs

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 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.
  • Being the first exporter of Asian carp in Kentucky, Two Rivers Fisheries experience exporting challenges. Chris Wooldridge and export officials worked to resolve the issue quickly through the United States Department of Commerce, helping the company avoid payment penalties or return product.  

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.
  • Ms. Yu’s company is now the biggest exporter of Asian carp in the U.S. and exports product to 11 countries 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 since.  
  • The company created 18 rural, good-paying jobs and continues to hire more.
  • Two Rivers Fisheries formed another company to sell waste products that the company discarded into fish fertilizer for sale. 
  • The company was recognized with an export award from the State of Kentucky and also acknowledged for solving an ecological problem.
  • Two Rivers Fisheries expanded its product line and opened a fish market.
  • Ms. Yu is considering an SBA loan for her future expansions.
  • She has received numerous awards, including entrepreneur of the month, and the 2017 Kentucky SBDC Pacesetter Award.
  • The company is a member of the Kentucky Proud program, received the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Certificate and was in The Wall Street Journal. 
  • Angie Yu has become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Company Name: 
Two Rivers Fisheries, Inc.
Location: 
Wickliffe, KY