Four local businesses receive $2,500 plus match in advertising services to innovate and expand operations
The Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has issued its second round of mini-grants, a program that awards $2,500 to four local businesses with plans to innovate and expand their operations.
Flatt-Broke Sign Works, Epperson Engineering, Battlefield Coffee Co. and the Hampton Inn Somerset are the businesses selected to receive mini-grants based on their proposals, and their reward doesn’t just include a $2,500 check: This year, Forcht Broadcasting joined the effort to match each mini-grant with $2,500 in advertising and marketing services. Forcht’s partnership increased the program’s total financial benefit from $10,000 to $20,000.
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said he was impressed by the variety and creativity of the proposals the committee received this year. Selecting only four was a challenging process, he said.
“We have so many outstanding entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community who are interested in investing and improving their operations, and that was more evident than ever through our second mini-grant application process,” Girdler said. “But I truly believe the selection committee has chosen four unique and beneficial projects that will have an important impact in our community.”
Local businesses are invited to apply for a variety of projects, including but not limited to strategic planning and management; purchase or physical improvements to facilities or equipment; training; or leadership, planning and management capacity initiatives.
Applicants are required to demonstrate their benefit to the community — presenting an overall plan, specific need for investment and ways in which funds will be utilized. Two grants are awarded to two start-up companies that are looking to begin operations and/or have been in business for less than one year, and two growth-oriented businesses that have been in business for more than one year.
SPEDA’s mini-grant program launched in 2020 and is an annual initiative for the organization, made possible through good management and proper financial oversight at SPEDA that has helped the organization save thousands annually.
“It was important to us to return that savings back into the hands of our business community to spur entrepreneurship,” Girdler said. “We want to pay forward our spirit of innovation so that businesses can in turn innovate and make our economy stronger.”
Flatt-Broke Sign Works, a specialty retail sign service owned and operated by Johnny Flatt and Kelly Mitchell, will use mini-grant funds to purchase a specialized printer that will allow them to design and deliver specialized signs. Flatt-Broke Sign Works was conceived from the belief “Every sign tells a story” and will pave the way for others to tell their stories through the creation of nostalgic, personalized, decorative signs on heavy-gauge metal, hand-crafted barn wood, or other materials. Signs can be personalized and customized to include names, photos, or other artwork.
Flatt, a Somernites Cruise sponsor, has a love for both classic and late-model cars. He plans to target classic and muscle car enthusiasts who live in and around Pulaski County and choose to attend local events and attractions.
“We are grateful to have been chosen as one of the recipients of the SPEDA mini-grant,” Flatt said. “The funding has allowed us to accelerate our business to the next level, and we are looking forward to working with Forcht Broadcasting to share our story and our services with others.”
While Flatt-Broke looks to help automotive enthusiasts tell their story, Hampton Inn Somerset is interested in giving the community a connection to the future of automotive travel. Hampton Inn, operated by THG Hotels, will use grant funds to install an electric vehicle charging station at the facility — one of the first such stations in Pulaski County.
“Hampton Somerset is honored to be presented with this grant from our great partner SPEDA,” General Manager Tim Kelly said. “Our goal is to provide clean, comfortable, and safe accommodations with the highest level of technology and advancements possible. This project will continue our commitment to our customers and the community we serve.”
Improved technology is also a focus for Epperson Engineering, a new company that is one of the first local full-service mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering firms. Epperson will use mini-grant funds to purchase a wide-format printer capable of producing large-scale construction drawings. Purchasing this printer will allow Epperson to bring this task in-house, saving money by no longer having to outsource printing services to a third party.
“Epperson Engineering is honored to be awarded one of the SPEDA mini-grants for the 2021 year and is proud to call Somerset home,” owner Justin Epperson, P.E., said. “As a new business, we are grateful for the generosity displayed by SPEDA and encouraged by their willingness to invest in the development of Somerset-Pulaski County. There is a tremendous amount of growth occurring in this area and Epperson Engineering is excited to further this community’s development.”
Last but not least, an investment in technology will help a new business in Nancy provide shorter wait times for what many consider an essential service of their day — a cup of coffee. Battlefield Coffee Co., which opened earlier this year, will use mini-grant funds to purchase an intercom system for their drive-thru window, getting customers to their daily cup of Battlefield special blend faster.
“Battlefield Coffee Co. is honored to have been awarded one of the SPEDA mini-grants,” co-owner Phil Keeney said. “Alongside the money received to build our drive-thru intercom system, the Forcht Broadcasting package will let us reach a larger audience. We are truly grateful for being considered and we appreciate SPEDA helping grow the community.”