November 2018
Ray Hagerman, MHCEDC President
Yaneth Peach, Greenhouse Harvest
Global Entrepreneurship Week 2018
There was an inconvenient truth voiced at our Entrepreneurship & Workforce in a Rural Community conference last month.

“Our No. 1 export for most of our rural counties is … what?” asked Jasper Welch, one of our guest speakers at the Oct. 18 event at Kentucky Innovation Station.

“It’s our kids.”

There were some chuckles in the room when he said it—but not because what he said was absurd. Just the opposite, unfortunately.

“That’s our No. 1 export,” said Welch, a management consultant and former mayor of Durango, Colorado. “We’re shipping our kids out. We’re shipping our talent out.”

It stings because we know this to be true. Many of us living in small towns such as Madisonville have even actively contributed to the trend, telling our kids from a young age that the definition of success is to leave home and thrive elsewhere.

That’s a shame. It’s bad logic, and its harm to a community like ours is enduring.

In celebration of Global Entrepreneur Week Nov. 12-18, we’ve been learning more about our local small-business operators. One of the interesting things to hear about is why they find Madisonville to be the right place for their businesses.

For example, Sherri Buchanan spent much of her career in insurance before opening Catering and Creations in 2013. The business started in a small space on Seminary Street, then moved into an event venue that can serve 150 people at 3295 N. Main St. and has subsequently added the C&C Express food truck.

“I think our timing has been really good,” she said. “One thing is that this community has allowed us opportunities to experiment a little with our ideas before making large investments in them. So, for example, we took the food truck out to county-fair events and gradually grew into the decision.”

Buchanan also mentioned a gathering commitment in Madisonville to support local entrepreneurs.

“And another factor is I-69,” she said of the upgrade of the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway from Nortonville to Henderson to interstate standards in 2013. “When that was first being talked about, I didn’t really expect much impact because it was utilizing the same roadway. But the increase in traffic has been significant already, and I think we really only have started to see the effects. It has made Madisonville more of a central location to the entire region, and that is changing things for businesses.”

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget defines “micropolitan statistical areas” as having “ at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties .” In addition to 12 metropolitan statistical areas (“ at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more ”), Kentucky either includes or connects to 19 micropolitan statistical areas. Madisonville is one of Kentucky’s micropolitans.
POLICOM Corporation creates economic-strength rankings for all U.S. micropolitan statistical areas. In announcing its annual rankings in January this year, the analytics firm wrote, “The rankings do not reflect the latest ‘hotspot’ or boom town, but the areas which have the best economic foundation ... The study measures twenty-three different economic factors over a twenty-year period. The formulas determine how an economy has behaved over an extended period of time.”
Over the last decade, Madisonville has climbed into the top quarter of POLICOM’s rankings of economic strength of 550 U.S. micropolitans . In 2018, Madisonville ranked 122—up from 159 the previous year and 240 in 2009.

What’s the takeaway of the data? I am encouraged.

The truth is that we will always have improvements to make if we are to make our community a more appealing place for people to stay in or move to. Shortages of housing at several income levels, day-care options and medical specialists are among our current challenges.

But the truth also is that Madisonville is becoming a quantifiably more and more attractive place to live and open or go to work for a business—big or small, in a widening range of industries. POLICOM’s economic-strength rankings factor data points such as the number of jobs, earnings for wage and salaried workers, per-capita personal income, market conditions per industry segment (such as non-farm proprietors, construction and retail) and per-capita welfare and medical assistance of a given area. The numbers show that Madisonville’s economic fundamentals are competitive and improving.

We need to make sure that the story we are telling our kids is up to date with that new reality.

Ray Hagerman is president of the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation ( ), which promotes and recruits commercial enterprises that offer quality jobs and encourages expansion and retention of existing businesses.
Check out what's going on in Hopkins County!
Do you need more child-care options in Hopkins County? Do your employees? What do you see as our community’s biggest gaps in child care? Infant care? Full-time or part-time? Before or after school? Evenings or overnight? On-site or drop-in? Curriculum-driven programs? We want to know your thoughts.
The Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation encourages economic development for the region by recruiting commercial enterprises that offer quality jobs and encouraging expansion and retention of our existing businesses. One of the ways we do that is by working with companies to understand and help satisfy their needs, and, more and more frequently, we hear that lack of child care is holding back growth in Hopkins County—that employers can’t hire the people they need, in part, because those people often can’t secure the quality care they need for their children.
What has been your experience? Please participate in our survey at . It takes less than five minutes to complete, and your input is needed to help us accurately gauge our community’s needs around child care—and share that market information with potential providers.
People with criminal records tend to make up one of the United States’ largest underemployed populations, and yet studies suggest these individuals often are more likely to stay in their jobs longer and progress through the ranks of a company at the same rate as any other worker. In addition to potentially saving on training costs, “second-chance employers” of these individuals also are in some cases eligible for valuable tax benefits. Would your organization be interested in being listed among a Hopkins County directory of second-chance employers?

Please contact Ruthann Padgett at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporatation (270) 821-1939 or for more information.
We are very excited about the launch of the Hopkins County Jobs website. This website is designed for businesses to post FREE job listings for their company, and will highlight training incentives to enhance their onboarding process.
This is also a great resource for job seekers. A weekly email will be sent to all those who sign up, which will provide the latest job postings from the Hopkins County Jobs website as well as information on Job Fairs and workshops.

For more informaiton on this website please contact, Ruthann Padgett at or 270-821-1939.
The Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation announced its third-annual Idea Competition , showcasing innovative business ideas from ninth-through-12 th -grade students in Henderson, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Union and Webster counties. Competitors will vie for cash prizes, and entries are due by 4 p.m. Central Dec. 14 at .

Ideas must be for new, for-profit businesses in agriculture, filtration, healthcare, information technology (IT)/data/software/technology, logistics/distribution or aviation. Participants must create and submit three-minute video presentations of their proposed businesses, as well as answer questions about their entries describing the primary benefits of its product and services, potential customers, market competition, production and distribution costs, etc. Entrants may compete as individuals or as a member of a single team of no more than four students.

“We want to challenge students to think deeply about what problems they feel passionate about solve in the world and how,” said Ruthann Padgett, vice president of operations with the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation. “Every successful business solves a problem of some type, and we look forward to hearing about the problems that the students identify and how they plan to go about solving them.”

Ten finalists will be selected from among the entries and notified before Jan. 14, 2019. Those students will have the opportunity to train on presentation skills with Kim Simons, a professor of business administration at Madisonville Community College. Finalists then will deliver three-minute, in-person pitches and discuss their business ideas with a panel of judges March 7 at Kentucky Innovation Station at 38 W. Arch St. in Madisonville.
1 Million Cups meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. at Kentucky Innovation Station, at 38 West Arch St. in Madisonville. Presenters deliver an educational presentation on their businesses and then engage in conversation with attendees. Entrepreneurs gain insight into possible ways they can improve their businesses, gather real-time feedback and connect with their community. To learn more about 1 Million Cups or to apply to present, please visit or contact Riley Dever with Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development at (270) 821-1939 or