UK Happenings

Kentucky Small Business Development Center to Host 22nd Annual Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium

Big Sandy Women's Business Symposium virtual flyer
Big Sandy Women's Business Symposium will be held 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 21, 2021) — The 22nd annual Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium is Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Paintsville, Kentucky. It is presented by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center locations of Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State University. This year’s theme is “Do Something Extraordinary.”

Registration begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $35, which includes all keynotes, workshops, lunch and entertainment. While the event is targeted to women entrepreneurs, all are invited to attend.

Opening remarks begin at 9:45 a.m. from emcee Trish Adams, agency ambassador, board and industry liaison for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. Attendees may choose between two concurrent breakout sessions. Sessions will include “The Customer Journey,” presented by Amanda Kelly, small-business training director for Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, and “Generational Differences in the Workplace," presented by Mercedes Maness, senior extension associate with the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, and Melody Nall, extension specialist and the engagement director at the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky.

Morning keynote speaker will be Jessi Robinson, founder, brand strategist and creative director of Print and Pixel in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. The afternoon keynote will feature Jessica Lawrence, director of Cairn Guidance in Morehead, with lunch entertainment provided by the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Technical Music.

Robinson, an Eastern Kentucky native, is passionate about branding and design. She learned to value a well-planned, strategic approach for design from her grandmother.

What began as a freelance side-hustle has grown into an award-winning, full-service agency. Robinson serves as creative director, leading a team dedicated to empowering meaningful brands to tell their story and own their digital footprint with intention. 

Robinson also works to amplify the voices of women carving their own paths, sharing their stories and struggles as the host of her podcast, “Pursuing Fearless.”

Jess Lawrence is a New Englander living in Eastern Kentucky after 20 years in Portland, Oregon.

In 2006, Lawrence started her own business as a national school and community health consultant. Cairn Guidance has been in business for 15 years, and her team works with state departments of education, including Kentucky Department of Education, as well as Departments of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, philanthropy organizations such as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, large urban school districts and nonprofits working to create healthier schools and communities. She is proud to own and run a national woman-owned business.

Lawrence will share the experiences of her 4,197-mile solo bicycle journey across the United States in 2013 at the age of 38. She believes that when people dedicate the time, create the challenge and commit to doing something extraordinary, individuals can collectively create a better world.

The Mountain Heritage Band consists of collaborative talent from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music. Director Dean Osborne joins current and former students Kris Preston, Natalie Tomlinson, Joe Goggins and Stephanie Rose of the Hazard Community and Technical College located in Hyden, Kentucky. 

Event sponsors include AAA Real Estate, Appalachian Wireless, American Electric Power, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Bluegrass Care Navigators, Community Trust Bank, Daffodils Boutique, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Floyd County Tourism, Foothills Communication, Mountain Apothecary, Mountain Association, Len Tan's Boutique, Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center, Peoples Bank, Q95FM, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Toyota, Women’s Business Center of Kentucky and WSIP.

Registration is available at

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been assisting the commonwealth’s small-business community since 1981. Through its statewide growing network of centers and an experienced and knowledgeable staff, the Kentucky SBDC provides unparalleled business coaching and training services that help existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs succeed. Our services include one-on-one business coaching, training workshops, market research, loan packaging help, assistance with financial projections and information needed to make informed business decisions. Kentucky SBDC is co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is administered by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in partnership with regional academic institutions, economic development organizations, the private sector and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.