This week, host David Ponraj is joined by Monique Kuykendoll Quarterman, Deputy Executive Director, and David Brock, Director of Operations, at KY Innovation. Within the Cabinet for Economic Development, KY Innovation is a statewide initiative representing Kentucky’s approach to building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

KY Innovation successfully targets resources to support startups, traditional small businesses, and innovation-driven entrepreneurs. The team’s work reaches across business lifespans to dramatically improve Kentucky’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. The goal is to significantly increase the number of new company startups annually. 

Monique and David share the organization’s “Secret Sauce” for breaking down silos in the ecosystem.

Entrepreneurship-led economic development principles shared in this episode: 

  • Defining innovation
  • Identifying barriers that diverse leaders may face and how to create opportunities for the next generation
  • The benefit of public-private partnerships
  • The role mentorship has played in Monique’s career and how it impacts the entrepreneurship community in Kentucky
  • Programs and incentives KY Innovation offers to meet the needs of the entrepreneurial and innovation community
  • The importance of engaging the community in a meaningful way and telling the stories of local entrepreneurs
  • How to effectively and efficiently make resources accessible to entrepreneurs and innovators 
  • Their Secret Sauce to breaking down silos in the Kentucky ecosystem

Impactful Economic Development Initiatives
KY Innovation focuses on three core initiatives that enable the state to provide greater support, including: 

  • Programs
  • Incentives & Financial Programs
  • Engagement

The KY Innovation Hubs initiative makes an impressive statewide impact. The hubs demonstrate the state’s commitment to meeting the needs of entrepreneurs in Kentucky exactly where they are. These regional innovation clusters comprise a 120-county effort to modernize Kentucky’s support for entrepreneurs and high-tech, high-growth-potential startups. The hubs leverage each region’s unique strengths in growing the overall economy. 

Empathy for the Entrepreneur
By directly engaging and listening to entrepreneurs, the team at KY Innovation more clearly understands what the community needs. Building trusting relationships underlies the strategy for how KY Innovation serves the community. This allows KY Innovation to develop a diversified collection of resources for entrepreneurs to fuel their growth and drive economic development. 

The Convener Role
​​The Commonwealth of Kentucky increasingly leverages its power as a convener to propel entrepreneurial activity. By bringing organizations doing similar work together, the state enhances collaboration and facilitates sharing of knowledge. Getting involved at the local level provides the perspective necessary for effective investment and policy making. 

KY Innovation stands out as an emerging leader in the national field of entrepreneurship-led economic development. In closing, Monique shares advice she would give to her younger self as a professional destined for this work: “Do it anyway,” she says. Meaning, go after opportunities assertively, without questioning your capabilities or “readiness.” 

About Our Guests:
A Kentucky native, Monique’s energy and passion for the success of entrepreneurship and innovation in Kentucky is contagious. She brings her experience with public colleges, universities and entrepreneurial support organizations to the executive director role. Her knowledge and connection to her home state empower her ability to create impact and opportunity by connecting innovators with resources.

David Brock is the director of operations for KY Innovation. He manages the office’s staff and its suite of incentives and programs designed to support Kentucky’s startups and entrepreneurs. He also has a background in communications and news management.

Learn more about KY Innovation at: https://www.kyinnovation.com/

About Breaking Down Barriers
A Podcast About Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development
This podcast explores entrepreneurship as part of the economic developer’s toolkit for building prosperity in our communities. Episodes feature changemakers with innovative approaches to building ecosystems and improving the environment to empower people to start and grow their businesses. Conversations focus on breaking down barriers that limit entrepreneurship in underserved and historically excluded communities. We seek authentic stories to understand the profound impact of entrepreneurship-led economic development on the local economy and spotlight a network of passionate leaders advancing the field. Find out more at economicimpactcatalyst.com/impact

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