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Success Stories

Marine Solutions and Amy Wilkins

Marine Solutions, Inc. (MSI) is a small, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) specializing in engineering and commercial diving. The firm is focused on building and maintaining waterfront, hydraulic, navigation and bridge structures. MSI combines marine engineering and construction experience, to provide clients with high-quality, innovative solutions for their facility by; assessing the problem, designing and then implementing the repair. MSI’s services are provided through a diversified staff of engineers, commercial divers and construction professionals with experience throughout the U.S. and abroad. MSI is majority owned by Amy Wilkins, PE, who seeks to exceed client expectations and to ensure that MSI is always in the forefront of the industry by providing unparalleled service and value through its highly motivated staff.

SBA Assistance: MSI management worked with the Bluegrass SBDC in Lexington, KY to develop their business plan and projections, obtain initial... Read More

Picture of Beulah Hester, Owner, Custom Officials Wear, LLC

Beulah Hester has an unusual story of personal and business triumph over unbelievable challenges. At the age of seven, she was badly burned on her back and right arm, so she began throwing a ball with her father as therapy for the burns. She later became very good at softball and was a star athlete in recreational leagues in high school. After high school, she had a job at a local sewing factory. Ms. Hester rapidly progressed in the business and became a supervisor at the factory, learning skills from an Italian tailor.

At the age of 37, Ms. Hester was married and had three young children at the time.  The youngest child was born with severe health problems, so to better care for her family she decided to leave the factory and open an alterations business in 1985. The business grew rapidly and did very well. In 1994, Ms. Hester did work for the owner of the National Softball Association (NSA), which led to an opportunity to patent a ball bag and produce that item for the NSA... Read More

Photo of Margy Taylor, owner of Clay and Cotton

     Clay & Cotton, an independent apparel and home boutique, received an SBA 504 loan to provide long-term, fixed financing to purchase a new building. The business was relocating a second store to a “live-work” planned community known as Norton Commons on the eastern edge of Louisville, KY. The original store has been located for 10 years in an eclectic area of central Louisville known as The Highlands, where many other small, independent businesses are located.

     This venture, including the SBA 504 loan, involved extensive discussion about how to structure the financing and shows collaboration between First National Bank of Carrollton, KY, a small community bank, which provided 50% of the SBA project funds, an SBA Certified Development Company (CDC), and SBA.

     It all started with a random conversation with Ralph Ross, SBA Kentucky District Director, and Margaret “Margy” Taylor, owner of Clay & Cotton, at a small business function in 2012. During the... Read More

Photo of Tommy Ray Cornett, Owner of Bleed Blue Tattoo & Piercing, Inc.

Brief description of the business:  Tommy Ray Cornett has been an artist his entire life. Whether drawing temporary tattoos on children in elementary school or sketching while stationed in Germany during his U.S. Army career, he has always been passionate about art. Tommy began his professional tattooing career in his hometown of Cincinnati in 1998 while attending the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in Design. Eight years later, he opened Bleed Blue Tattoo & Piercing Inc. in Lexington, KY and home of the University of Kentucky (UK).

Bleed Blue, a name reflecting the passion for UK’s “Big Blue Nation,” is the premier professional studio in the Lexington area in central Kentucky. The business was established there in January 2008 by Mr. Cornett, another artist and partner at the time, and Cornett’s future spouse, Jessica. The company’s mission, in addition to providing superb tattoos and piercings, is to educate the public on the appropriate safety and technical... Read More