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Local Kentucky CEOs Network to Grow their Company and Make a Difference

March 30, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015 –Richmond, KY

            Local Kentucky entrepreneurs gathered at Eastern Kentucky University on Friday morning to network and discuss ways of expanding their businesses in the Commonwealth. Kristel Smith, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office at Richmond/EKU, initiated a new network for professionals looking to grow their business.


    The following companies and CEOs represented were Kim Gardener for Class 101, Jacob Gahn for Sweetgrass Granola, Robin Mason for Pumpkin Vine Creek LLC, Christina Newman for Mad Marketplace, Cassandra Gray for Creative Spirit Ministries, Anne King for Nurses Aid Training School, and Raechelle Gray for Greater Works Design Studio.


    Creating a support group of professionals helps bring various businesses together allowing them to collaborate in innovative ways. By utilizing the skills of each individual, the CEOs extend their resources to expand their reach. Common goals and the drive for success enable the leaders of local companies to seek ways to grow their businesses.


    The CEOs present were encouraged to consider the positive impact they could create for their company and Kentucky through networking. Each company expressed involvement with addressing needs in the community and finding ways to give back to local residents. Kim Gardener from Class 101 helps Kentucky parents educate their children for ACT and college preparation. She helps develop local Kentucky youth to be successful college students. Anne King was bold enough to start a school for adult learners to obtain certification as Nurse’s Aides, which is being offered in over ten offices across Kentucky. Cassandra Gray’s company Creative Spirits has several offices with one in Danville and is involved with the rehabilitation of individuals affected by domestic violence, addiction and substance abuse. Robin Mason and Jacob Gahn both have companies that provide environmentally friendly alternatives. Kentucky’s agricultural economy benefits from their work by providing natural food choices or farm and landscape products. Christina Newman, through Mad Marketplace, is seeking to make a difference through a direct selling model that allows stay at home moms and others to make money through the selling of products that have a giveback mission. Finally, Raechelle Gray, a recent EKU MBA graduate, has a full design firm helping small businesses create a strong brand image.


    These CEOs are pioneers by finding solutions to problems and providing the service or product to improve communities. One CEO stated, “We will be known for the problems we solve.” Coordinated by Kristel Smith, these altruistic leaders are provided the opportunity to network. This allows a wider platform of support and growth to evolve, which Kentucky can benefit from, while supporting local businesses.   ​




Kristel S. Smith


Kentucky Innovation Network at Richmond

& EKU Business & Technology Accelerator

@Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship & Technology

Eastern Kentucky University

521 Lancaster Ave. BTC147

Richmond, KY 40475




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