Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC) has created an innovative training series to help emerging and existing entrepreneurs and housing contractors living in rural counties of Southeastern Kentucky start or expand their businesses.

With support from the U.S. Small Business Administration, KHIC is launching the inaugural “Business Builder Basics” training series.

For no charge, entrepreneurs and small business owners from all industries will learn critical skills necessary to operate in today’s business world. Initial classes focus on core business skills and gradually incorporate more specific topics. For participants interested in learning construction related business skills, professional contractors will teach additional classes designed with those in mind.

“In our work with building energy-efficient, affordable work force housing, we have seen first-hand the shortage of qualified construction trade businesses and professionals,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of Kentucky Highlands. “It hinders the ability of affordable housing development organizations in southeastern Kentucky to meet demand. This training program will help housing and construction contractors become more efficient, profitable and sustainable as well as help experienced construction trades workers launch their own business.”

In addition to a skilled worker shortage, there also is an aging workforce in the trades. The average age of company owners in the plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades is nearly 60 years old, and few have a succession plan for the business.

Initial classes have already received positive reviews from participants. “The depth of training and resources provided for new business owners is amazing” said Cheryl Boggs Fuller, an artist from London, Kentucky who attended the first training of the series. “Also, connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs has been a tremendous benefit.”

Classes will be continued monthly from December through July in Hazard, London, Pineville and Somerset. Participants can take all the classes or attend individual sessions. The program is free, but attendees must register in advance. To learn more or register, visit The courses also can be completed via video conference as well.

In addition, KHIC will hold other classes in locations where there is interest. Groups can arrange those trainings by contacting KHIC directly at (606) 864-5175.

Sessions will include:

  • Introduction to ZOOM teleconference software and business basics
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel
  • How to avert a cash crisis by learning how to create weekly cash budget planning, forecasting, and negotiating with vendors and lenders as well as exploring tax and accounting issues
  • How to become a Housing Development Organization (HDO) contractor — cost-effective, energy-efficient building and qualifying for government contracting
  • Effective project management

The training is part of a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) to help organizations better meet the affordable housing demand. 

Highlands Housing construction staff guided KHIC in the development of curriculum specific to the building trades industry.