Campus News

KSBDC Takes Part in Ignite Tour With National Leader of SBA

Ignite Tour in Shelbyville
"Ignite Tour" in Shelbyville. Photo by Natalie Cunningham, KSBDC.

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2018) — Kentucky Small Business Development Center clients recently joined Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon on the SBA Ignite Tour.

As head of the SBA and the voice of small businesses on the president’s cabinet, McMahon is conducting a nationwide SBA Ignite Tour to listen to small-business owners, educate them and the public about SBA services, advocate for entrepreneurs and drive economic growth.

McMahon, joined by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, focused the discussion on workforce development and the recently established National Council for the American Worker. Leaders in Kentucky’s small-business community and KSBDC clients Debra Dudley, Rhonda Hatfield, Gloria Manimuthu, Lesme Romero and Tom Masterson shared their issues with turnover, lack of entry-level employees and finding skilled workers with Bevin and McMahon. 

Rhonda Hatfield, owner of Blue Halo Med Spa with a history in the child care industry, pointed out the challenges of paying employees enough to retain them in a low paying environment. She suggested help with training and professional development for these employees would help with turnover.

“It’s turnover,” Hatfield said. “They (child care facilities) have such a challenge getting qualified employees that want to go to school and take additional classes. Educating our young children is one of the most important jobs you can have, yet it is one of the lowest paid. The general public cannot pay what it would really take to pay an adequate wage to child care employees.”

Lesme Romero, owner and manager of EZ Foods, Lexington Pasta and Pasta Garage, mirrored Hatfield’s remarks on turnover. To retain employees, Romero’s business has started offering additional benefits. He stated that access to affordable health insurance and benefit packages for small-business owners would help retain his best employees.

“With affordable health insurance, we can have a bigger family and better returns for the business,” Romero said.

Alison Davis, KSBDC interim director, said the tour gave the center’s clients a great opportunity to express their concerns and offer suggestions to elected officials to improve the small-business environment.

“It is invaluable experience for our state and federal leaders to hear directly from small-business owners about the workforce issues they are facing,” she said. “KSBDC clients are the perfect spokespeople for small-business owners in Kentucky. They can provide a voice to the particular workforce challenges small businesses deal with in tough times as well as periods of tremendous growth. We could not be more proud and excited for our clients to have such an opportunity.”

The National Council for the American Worker was created to provide a coordinated process for developing a national strategy to ensure that America’s students and workers have access to affordable, relevant and innovative education and job training that will equip them to compete and win in the global economy, and for monitoring the implementation of that strategy.

The executive order states, “There are currently more than 6.7 million unfilled jobs in the United States, and American workers, who are our country’s most valuable resource, need the skills training to fill them.”

The panel discussion was held at Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville.

KSBDC, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, www.ksbdc.org/.

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