Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The Northeast Kentucky Small Business Awards recognize businesses and entrepreneurs from across the five county (Carter, Greenup, Boyd, Lawrence, Elliott) area. But businesses from Carter County represented an outsized number of the awards nominees this year.
For instance, more than half of the 2021 New Business of the Year nominees – eight out of 15 – were from Carter County. These included Angel Wills with Happy Hills Farmstead; Paul and Bobbi Sloas from Inflation Station; Bonnie Barker and Debbie Jenkins, owners of Jean Marie’s Boutique; Johnny Bailey for Johnny’s Gadget Repair; MaKaylen Genung and Olive Branch Platters, LLC; Shannon L. Smith-Stephens, CNP, APRN-BC, PLLC; and Lincoln and Christy Stamper, with Trinity Sisters Design.
That trend carried through to the Service Business of the Year category, where again half of the nominees hailed from Carter County. Nominees included Rhiannon Greer, Dance With Hope Studios, LLC; Jason Duvall, Duvall and Moore Funeral Home; Emaley Russell and Christopher Pereyra, Empower Athletics; Shannon Shutte and Mary Hollingsworth, Retro Salon; and Carolyn Callihan, Tyler’s Pizza. That number was more than half if you include Misael Nuñez, whose Tres Hermanos Nuñez restaurants are found in Carter, Boyd, Greenup, and Lawrence Counties.
“Me being from Carter County, that excites me,” said event coordinator Rachel Duvall Bowling, with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center. “It shows people are coming to Carter County and putting down roots and starting small businesses.”
“It was a welcome change of pace,” she added, noting that Carter County has not always been so well represented in the past.
While the new and service categories had the largest percentage from Carter County, county businesses were well represented in other categories too. For instance, one third of the nominees for Emerging Business of the Year were from Carter County – Flowers by Jeanie/Lavender Blooms, Phyllis Sturgill; Walking on Sunshine Wellness Spa & Shoppe, Pamela Howard and Camelia Blair; and First Light Home Care, Shadow and Rebekah Skaggs.
Three of the eight nominees for Retail/Wholesale Business of the Year were from Carter County. These included Erwin’s Auto Sales, Ronnie Erwin; Holbrook Computer Repair and Sales, Bruce Holbrook; and Valley of Hope Farms, Milissia and Stephen Owens.
Three local business owners were nominated for Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Misael Nuñez, Tres Hermanos Nuñez; Rhiannon Greer, Dance With Hope Studio, LLC; and Shadow Skaggs, First Light Homecare.
Skaggs was the sole winner from Carter County, taking home the award as 2021 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Bowling said businesses can be nominated for the awards by anyone, even themselves. The small business development center has a call for nominations every year, she explained. Most of the nominations they receive come from people that have worked with the business owners, she said. Or from their customers. But this year there was a special focus on nominations through social media, she said.
A committee then pours over the nominations to determine finalists and winners. But everyone who is nominated deserves special recognition, she said, and they try to provide that recognition and exposure for all nominees.
All nominees have the name of their business and often their logo in the program and on materials. The same goes for event sponsors. This exposure, and the awards breakfast, “helps build those networks” so business owners can get to know and support one another, she said.
In the coming year or so, she said, they are looking at expanding that informational aspect, possibly with exhibits for each business, showing what items or services they offer.
For more information on the Northeast Kentucky Small Business Awards, and other services available to small business owners, contact the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at Morehead State University at (606)610-2123 or online at kentuckysbdc.com/morehead.