Kentucky Innovation Station is a coworking and business-incubation space in Madisonville’s remodeled train station at 38 West Arch Street. Small-business operators, traveling professionals and students work independently of one another but in a shared, modern facility, which also includes the offices of Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation staff. Designed to encourage creativity, collaboration and productivity, Kentucky Innovation Station is ideal for budding entrepreneurs, providing a welcoming, supportive and fun environment among like-minded professionals. Plus, tapping into Kentucky Innovation Station’s shared resources is inherently more economically sustainable for fledgling businesses—and contributes to eco-friendliness.
1 Million Cups meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 a.m. at Kentucky Innovation Station, at 38 West Arch St. in Madisonville. It is a monthly gathering of like-minded professionals supporting one another in their entrepreneurial journeys. Presenters deliver a brief talk about their businesses and then engage in a workshop conversation with the attendees about the opportunities and challenges their businesses are facing. Entrepreneurs gain insight into possible ways they can improve their businesses, hear lessons learned and connect with their community. Madisonville is one of more than 180 regular gatherings of 1 Million Cups, a program developed by the Kauffman Foundation in 2012. Bakeries and bowling alleys, cosmetics and hardware stores, dance and fiber studios, home-improvement companies and graphic novelists, coffee roasters and poultry farms—as well as providers of various services including auto body repair and painting, environmental consulting, paving and sealing—have been among the other local businesses to have been featured here.
Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation has launched Entrepreneur Mixer programs at Kentucky Innovation Station. Entrepreneurs and other local business leaders share an evening to connect and learn. The themed events are free and open for current and future entrepreneurs, who not only get to enjoy drinks and appetizers with like-minded professionals but also walk away with concrete, tailored recommendations for improving their businesses.
An annual Idea Competition for high-school students is another way that Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation nurtures our community’s homegrown entrepreneurs. Ninth-through-12th-grade students are challenged to think deeply about what problems they feel passionate and then create innovative business ideas to solve those problems. Participants must create and submit three-minute video presentations of their proposed businesses, as well as answer questions about their entries describing the primary benefits of its product and services, potential customers, market competition, production and distribution costs, etc.
The Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation and the Hopkins County Cooperative Extension Service together host the annual Roots-To-Riches Agripreneurs Conference. Anyone who farms, wants to farm or is in any way interested in a business that involves agriculture are encouraged to attend.
Kentucky Movers and Makers is on pace to be western Kentucky’s first “makerspace,” a collaborative work space in a 7,000-square-foot building at 130 N. Seminary St. The building—under renovation funded by a $1.068 million federal grant won by the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation and Hopkins County Fiscal Court—will contain equipment for woodworking, metalworking, three-dimensional printing, plasma-cutting, quilting and commercial sewing. Kentucky Movers and Makers will allow persons to use the equipment on a scheduled basis, enabling builders, tinkerers and artists to grow their skill level, create prototypes and potentially launch new businesses. The goal is to kickstart all generations to collaborate and rejuvenate homegrown fabrication and innovation—to nurture a new generation of makers, not simply consumers. Kentucky Movers and Makers is scheduled to open in 2019.