Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:12PM - 138 Views

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LEXINGTON – Kentucky is home to more than 6,700 arts-related businesses that employ 24,400 people — nearly four times as many as Toyota or Ford. The arts are a big business in Kentucky and the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) is working to grow that business with a new program – Access To Market.

ATM will provide step-by-step business coaching, product development and pricing expertise, niche sector opportunities and wholesale relationship strategies for local and underserved artists. Funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), ATM will select 50 Kentucky artisan businesses to participate in the program based on a simple application process. The SBA will utilize funds for this project that were allocated to Kentucky as part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act earlier this year. ATM is also a unique partnership between the KSBDC and the Kentucky Arts Council, a state agency within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of state government. Program participants will achieve on-line presence with websites and social media, develop wholesale clients and will move from local to regional and national sales.

“We are pleased to bring this program to Kentucky artisans,” said Vallorie Henderson, Louisville SBDC consultant and head of the ATM project. “So many have demonstrated the ambition to start a business, but have little access to the resources and mentoring that would provide them with a sound direction for growing their skills and products into a profitable business. ATM will work to change this.”

According to a national study conducted in 2010 by the Craft Organizations Development Association (CODA), the craft economy contributes an estimated $14 billion to the annual GDP. These cultural products include regional folk art, baskets, furniture, glass, jewelry and more. While there are 120,000 documentable professional studio artisans in America, less than 6,000 of these grow beyond local selling opportunities.

The ATM program is a year- long project that will begin accepting applications in late September. Program guidelines and application forms can be downloaded at www.ksbdc.org/AccessToMarket or requested via email to vallorie.henderson@uky.edu. Completed applications are due by 10/15/12.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center is a network of 15 offices located throughout the state that help existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. The KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For more information on how the KSBDC can serve you, or to locate a center in your area, visit www.ksbdc.org.

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