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Murray State Joins GroWest Coalition
Kentucky Ag Connection - 07/31/2020

The Murray State University Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (CEED), along with the Center for Computer and Information Technology (CCIT), have announced their continued participation in the new GroWest Coalition, an initiative equipped to provide assistance to startups and expand tech-enabled businesses across western Kentucky.

Led by Paducah-based entrepreneurial development nonprofit Sprocket, Inc., GroWest will focus on client services, the attraction of outside and developmental capital and pre-seed fundraising for innovation and tech-based entrepreneurship. Additional services include early-stage education and mentorship, help navigating local and state regulations and connections to regional and statewide networks of other entrepreneurs.

GroWest was formerly known as West KY RISE, which originated two years ago by the CCIT through grants obtained from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. The CCIT and CEED worked together with other coalition partners to establish and grow the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. GroWest will continue its regional emphasis by operating in an area that stretches from Carlisle to Muhlenberg Counties, taking in the entirety of the Purchase and Pennyrile Area Development Districts as well as western parts of the Green River Development District.

Former Sprocket board chair Monica Bilak assumed the role of regional director effective July 1. Bilak takes over regional leadership of the program from CCIT director Dr. Michael Ramage after two years; Ramage and CCIT will focus on building the computer and information technology sector of West Kentucky and growing the regional tech workforce to meet current and future demands.

"Our partnership is unique to western Kentucky and is greatly enhanced by the support of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear through the Kentucky State Cabinet for Economic Development/Kentucky Innovation," Bilak said. "This funding is key to our continuing effort to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a special emphasis on tech-based businesses."

Murray State will serve as a regional hub for GroWest alongside Sprocket, the Technology Council of West Kentucky and the Kentucky Innovation Station. Individuals with an innovative startup idea or existing business with the potential to scale are invited to contact the hub closest to them.

"We are very excited about the opportunity for the Murray State University Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development to continue to be an activist and catalyst for job creation, wealth creation and student experiential learning in the region through tech-enabled and innovation based businesses," said Chris Wooldridge, CEED director.

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