By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Fundraising, charity bike rides, fireworks and other community-related events are some of the factors that earned a London business the 2012 Startup Business award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.
The initial announcement came on Sept. 10 at Somerset’s Center for Rural Development with the presentation of a framed picture of the ceremonial award presented at the Wildcat Harley-Davidson dealership in London.
As the roar of Harleys echoed through the building Wednesday afternoon, the proof was in the pudding as community leaders gathered to celebrate the success of the business that has become a destination for motorcyclists across the region.
Deanna Herrmann, executive director of the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce, praised the dealership, its management and employees for their contributions to the community.
“This (dealership) draws in a lot of people to our area,” she said. “While they are here, they get a taste of London and the other businesses here. This business is very responsible and are very giving to the community. They have been a huge asset to London and Laurel County.”
Looking around at the crowd, Larry Combs, Director of Technology and Business Services for the Center for Rural Development, said, “This is one of few businesses where I feel I could come and hang out for an afternoon.”
“This is a destination,” he continued. “The employees here create a welcoming environment and they are dedicated to helping in the community.”
The EIEA received 100 nominations of businesses in the region that qualified in five categories in business achievement. The nominations are reviewed by a committee of partner representatives and external stakeholders on the basis of economic success, operational achievement and contribution to the community.
The EIEA awards are the partnership of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Eastern Kentucky University’s College for Business and Technology, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED) Corporation, and The Center for Rural Development.
These partner organizations recognize small businesses which succeed despite the economic turmoil of the nation.
“Statistics show that small businesses remain the backbone of our region’s — and the state’s — economy,” said Ian Mooers, executive director of the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology ()CEDET”) for EKU. “According to the Report on Small Business in Kentucky, 93 percent of the 71,250 business establishments have fewer than 50 employees. Those facts illustrate that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive and well. Wildcat Harley-Davidson is a great example for us to celebrate with today.”
Shane Richmond, manager of the London dealership, said the award was due to the employees and the overall spirit of cooperation.
“We have great brands, a great philosophy and great employees,” he said.
“We developed this dealership with a love for the area and a drive for the best customer service. Since our opening three years ago, Wildcat Harley-Davidson has exceeded what we dreamed to be able to achieve.”
Wildcat Harley-Davidson, located on East Hal Rogers Parkway, is a full-service motorcycle dealership that serves customers in and around southern and eastern Kentucky. Besides the variety of motorcycles, the dealership also features an accessory section that includes purses, boots, riding gear, bike accessories, and clothing. Additionally, the dealership can build customized bikes as well as painting and repair.
The EIEA program was established in 2001 to recognize small business owners, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations in southern and eastern Kentucky for their successful business accomplishments.