In a year of perpetual change, the Kentucky Innovation Station — powered by the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation — has announced its regional initiative, formerly known as “RISE West Kentucky” is now “GroWest.”
Along with the name change, GroWest has received $322,000 for innovation funding. EDC president Ray Hagerman said the Innovation Station is receiving $55,700 to help tech-based entrepreneurial businesses.
“It’s for the work we’re going to be doing in helping companies provide services, business planning, helping companies acquire capital, helping companies to access customers, helping companies find suppliers and those kinds of things, even helping companies find talent,” he said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of the same entrepreneurial services we’ve been providing in the past, but it’s going to be even more focused on technology and tech-enabled companies.”
This name change was sparked by wanting fresh terminology. Hagerman said RISE was from the former administration, and their coalition wanted their brand to reflect the change.
“We’re trying to grow entrepreneurs in west Kentucky, let’s just go with something like this,” he said. “We just felt like it was time for a rebrand.”
Hagerman has a leading position with GroWest committee, which is lead by GroWest regional director Monica Bilak. The funds GroWest received are part of a more substantial $2.6 million grant supporting the state’s six regional innovation hubs.
“Our partnership is unique to western Kentucky and greatly enhanced by the support of the Governor through Kentucky State Cabinet for Economic Development/Kentucky Innovation,” said Bilak in a news release. “This funding is absolutely key to our continuing effort to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a special emphasis on tech-based businesses.”
GroWest is made up of several entities — Sprocket, Inc., Murray Statue University Center for Computer and Information Technology, The Technology Council of West Kentucky, the Murray State University Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development and the Kentucky Innovation Station.
Client services, the attraction of outside and developmental capital, as well as pre-seed fundraising, will be additional areas of focus. The coalition provides entrepreneurial services in an area that stretches from Carlisle to Muhlenberg Counties, taking in the entirety of the Purchase, Pennyrile, and portions of the Green River Development Districts, according to the release.
If you have an innovative startup idea or existing business with the potential to scale, contact the Kentucky Innovation Station at 270-875-6185.
Services include early-stage education and mentorship, navigating local and state regulations, and connections to other entrepreneurs networks, both regional and statewide.