Business retention, expansion discussed

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Harlan City Tourism, the Harlan Chamber of Commerce and One Harlan County sponsored a meeting at the Harlan Center on Sept. 17 geared toward business retention and expansion.

Harlan City Tourism Director Brandon Pennington explained how the meeting came about.

“We got in contact with CEDIK (Community Economic Development in Kentucky),” Pennington said. “We contacted them because we had noticed there were multiple organizations working in the community that were starting a business survey for existing businesses in order to identify what sort of resources they need.”

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Pennington said the goal was to find ways to help downtown businesses succeed.

“Once we found out there were all these organizations working on a business survey…we all decided to come together with CEDIK since they already had a survey developed,” Pennington explained. “So, we hosted a meeting with CEDIK. Harlan Tourism, the Harlan Chamber of Commerce and One Harlan County all came together to present the survey to the business community in Harlan.”

Pennington said local businesses are being encouraged to take part in the survey.

“The hope with the survey is we want to come up with a strategic plan based on what our businesses need,” Pennington said. “We ended up with about 25 businesses represented. Now, we’re going out in the community…to meet with business owners and ask them to fill out the survey.”

Downtown Development and Event Coordinator Laura Adkisson added her perspective on the project.

“I think there’s a lot of emphasis on recruiting businesses, but we don’t want to forget the businesses we already have operating in our community,” she said.

Adkisson added one of the best ways to recruit new business is to show that existing businesses are thriving.

“We want to highlight the things that are going well and put resources and attention toward the things we can do to help grow our local business community,” Adkisson said.

Adkisson said the surveys basically measure an overall picture of how the business is doing.

“We will collect all the surveys and they will go to a research team who will generate a report,” Adkisson said.

Adkisson stated the final report will supply information helpful to the business community.

“They’ll give us some things we can take away that are specific to our community that will make a difference,” Adkisson said. “It will help us direct our efforts and resources.”

Participation in the survey is voluntary. Any business owner interested in taking part in the survey should contact the Harlan Center at 606-573-4156, James Epperson at the Harlan Chamber of Commerce of Colby Kirk at One Harlan County.