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Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium Slated for Aug. 24 – Morehead State University News

The 22nd Annual Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 24, at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Paintsville. Presented by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC) locations of Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State University, the theme of this year’s symposium is “Do Something Extraordinary.”  

The morning will start with registration, networking, and opening remarks at 9:45 a.m. by Emcee Trish Adams, agency ambassador and board and industry liaison for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP.)  

Attendees will then have their choice of two concurrent breakout sessions. Sessions that will be offered at the symposium include “The Customer Journey,” presented by Amanda Kelly, small business training director for Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED), and “Generational Differences in the Workplace,” presented by Mercedes Maness, senior extension associate with the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky and Melody Nall, extension specialist and the engagement director at the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK.)   

The morning keynote speaker will be Jessi Robinson and the afternoon keynote speech will feature Entrepreneur Jessica Lawrence. Lunchtime entertainment will be provided by the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music’s Mountain Heritage Band. Robinson, an Eastern Kentucky native, is the founder and creative director of P&P Creative. Robinson also works to amplify the voices of women carving their own paths, sharing their stories and struggles as the host of her podcast, “Pursuing Fearless.”  

Jess Lawrence started her own business in 2006 as a national school and community health consultant. Cairn Guidance has been in business for 15 years, working with state departments of education, including the Kentucky Department of Education. The company also works with public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cairn Guidance is involved with philanthropy through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, large urban school districts and non-profits working to create healthier schools and communities. In 2013, Lawrence embarked on a 4,197-mile solo bicycle trip across the United States and will share the story of her journey during her keynote address.  

The Mountain Heritage Band from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music is a collaborative group. It includes Director Dean Osborne, current and former students and Kris Preston, Natalie Tomlinson, Joe Goggins, and Stephanie Rose of the Hazard Community and Technical College in Hyden, Ky.   

Registration begins at 9 a.m. The cost of the event is $35, which includes all keynotes, workshops, lunch, and entertainment. While the event is targeted at women entrepreneurs, all are invited to attend the symposium. Registration is available online at

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been assisting the Commonwealth’s small-business community since 1981. Through its statewide growing network of centers and experienced and knowledgeable staff, the Kentucky SBDC provides business coaching and training services that help existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs succeed. Kentucky SBDC is funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U. S. Small Business Administration. 

For more information, contact MSU SBDC Director Rachel Bowling at [email protected] or 606-783-2895, or General Management Consultant Michelle Spriggs at [email protected] or 606-432-5848.