HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – Thousands of dollars have been spent investing in small businesses in Eastern Kentucky through the Invest 606 accelerator program and final pitch contest.
Seven businesses made it to the final pitch competition in Corbin on Saturday.
Although three were picked for awards, Invest 606 Founder Geoff Marietta said each business was impressive.
“All seven of the businesses really could have won, and that is the hardest part for both of the judges, is trying to select those top three,” Marietta said.
Once the final decision was made, “The Flower Lady” owner Bethany Allen won the $15,000 first place prize.
Allen has had consistent growth since starting her business, putting together flowers for weddings and planting a flower field where people can take photos.
“I felt either way I was doing great. Regardless if I came out with anything or not. I was honestly really in shock that they even called my name. My boyfriend had to tell me, ‘Hey, that’s you! You need to get up!’ I just feel so insanely blessed,” Bethany Allen said.
Allen also said she plans to buy a truck with the prize money so she can transport her flowers more efficiently.
From tangible to virtual, Queen City Streams owner Nathan Lyttle won the $8,000 second place prize.
Lyttle has hosted multiple eSports competitions through his streaming platform.
“Going through this program and finding out things that we could do better. Things that we can do to invest in ourselves, and the people that are there for us. It’s just a wonderful experience,” Nathan Lyttle said.
Annie’s Frugal Finery won the $4,500 third place prize.
Co-owner Debbie Campbell named the business after her daughter and co-owner Annie Eldridge.
They have grown and expanded through upscale consignment, and with the prize money, Campbell hopes that will continue.
“We are grateful and super happy to be in the top three! It’s been a great experience and so worthwhile!” she said.
Small businesses in Eastern Kentucky are proof to Invest 606 Founder Geoff Marietta that the region is growing.
”You know, the secret is out that the quality of life, the schools, the people, the community, the rural areas, especially in Kentucky, is just a better place to live. Especially now that you’ve seen the growth of restaurants, of other amenities,” Geoff Marietta said.
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