Invest 606, a new business accelerator serving Eastern and Southern Kentucky, has announced 12 business finalists who have a chance to win over $50,000 in prizes through its pitch contest, including three businesses in London.

The accelerator is the first of its kind to cover all of eastern Kentucky and provide support to the businesses with 6 months of training and services. A $10,000 grand prize, $5,000 second prize, and $3,000 third prize will be awarded to the 12 Finalists completing the accelerator, along with thousands of dollars in other cash and in-kind prizes. To be eligible to apply, the Finalists had to be based in the 606 area code.

The selection process involved a competitive review among a panel of judges that are business and economic leaders in the state and region. The 12 Finalists are based across 9 different counties in the region including Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Laurel, Letcher, Mason, Pike, Rowan, and Whitley Counties. Combined they employ nearly 60 people and generate more than $1,000,000 in annual revenue. The businesses represent eight different industries including agriculture, entertainment, health, local food, manufacturing, and technology. Two-thirds of the businesses are owned and operated by women.

The finalist businesses and owners are:

— City Perk Coffeehouse, Jennifer Kopecky

— Class Guard ReadiShield, Chris McNamee

— Elevate Health & Fitness, Susannah Zawko

— Fact of Nature, Kenny Miles

— Inquiry Technologies, Scott Stuckey

— Ky Lavender, Allison Horseman and Mary May

— KYARTRAT, Stef Ratliff

— Moonlight Meat Shop, Anne Bays

— Oak Hill Gardens, Josh Samples

— Old Homeplace Farm, Maggie and Will Bowling

— Sassy TRASH, April and Paul Collins

— Sprinkles of Hope, Meagan Brannon

Over the next six months, the finalists will complete an individualized and flexible training plan. They will present their business to the public at a Demo Day on January 18, 2020 in Pikeville. The Final Pitch contest will be held April 18, 2020 in Williamsburg.

Invest 606 is founded and led by Dr. Geoff Marietta with the mission to catalyze business growth in the 606 by connecting entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed today and grow tomorrow. Marietta is an entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of the Cumberlands, which also serves as the home office of Invest 606.

“We have an incredible inaugural cohort of Finalists,” said Marietta. “Each represents a successful business that is growing and aligned with the strengths of the region. Invest 606 is here to help get them what they need now to succeed.”

A full list of the finalists and their businesses can be found at www.invest606.org/2020-cohort. Anyone interested in the events and the accelerator contest may learn more by visiting their website or following Invest 606 on Facebook.

The University of the Cumberlands is a founding partner of Invest 606, alongside the James Graham Brown Foundation and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

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