Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Economic Development Secretary Gene Strong Launch Database to Ease Search for Kentucky Businesses.
A chat with a Kentucky company trying to find a closer source for its chili sauce containers sparked state officials to search for a reliable way of linking businesses with Kentucky-based suppliers. And now that way is a reality.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development recently unveiled the Kentucky Business Finder at www.KentuckyBusinessFinder.com. The free-access Web site allows users to search by type of business, product or service line and even by county. Already nearly 850 Kentucky businesses have registered for the new database, and thousands more are expected to sign up as word gets out.
"I don't know of any other state doing what we have done with the Kentucky Business Finder, creating a database that connects businesses directly with other businesses," said Gov. Fletcher. "I am proud of the work that the Cabinet for Economic Development and Secretary Gene Strong have done on this project and the results it will generate for Kentucky."
Secretary Strong said the idea for the Kentucky Business Finder started when J.R. Wilhite and other Cabinet officials were speaking with a London (Ky.) manufacturer of chili sauce. The sauce company was discussing ways to finance a new piece of cooking equipment when the conversation drifted toward the difficulties of finding dependable, nearby suppliers of microwave-ready sauce tubs that met its standards. The company was purchasing its tubs from a vendor in New Jersey and expressed a desire to find a closer source of supply.
"We weren't able to resolve that particular company's need, but it did spark a conversation in our office," Strong said. "It seemed to us that there had to be an easy and reliable means of linking Kentucky businesses with each other."
Wilhite, commissioner of the cabinet's Department for Existing Business Development, collaborated with Rene F. True, executive director of the Office of Research and Information Technology, on a database. Strong then took the idea to Gov. Fletcher, who worked with legislators to pass Senate Bill 156 in the 2005 General Assembly. The law, which includes other provisions encouraging the growth of small business, authorizes "providing sufficient technical resources to create and maintain a database to facilitate sales transactions between Kentucky businesses."
Strong said the Kentucky Business Finder will allow state officials to track the number of queries in the system, although there will be no way to determine how much new business results from the queries. "We don't have any numerical goals for new business, because it would be impossible to capture," Strong said. "But certainly we anticipate that new business revenues will be generated in sizable numbers, so it's clear this service will have real value for Kentucky."
Strong said businesses tend to prefer nearby businesses because such relationships raise the level of trust, make it easier to call and change orders, and bolster people's natural desire to support their neighbors. "I think the Kentucky Business Finder will be especially popular with smaller businesses - those employing between 20 and 100 people - and probably more so with rural businesses than with urban," he said. "Larger businesses and those in larger cities tend to have their supplier networks already established."
Here's how the Kentucky Business Finder will work. Companies wishing to register their facilities in the database are asked for their company name, address, contact information, Internet address, related Web links and other information. To aid in searches, registering businesses may describe their product or service in keyword form or by using the standardized six-digit industry codes established under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). There is also a section allowing the registrant to include up to 500 words of free-form text to describe the business.
At the other end of the spectrum are the users - the business people who are searching for a company with which to do business. Users will have a variety of options on how to find the business they want by using:
- keywords that describe the product or service of the registered facility;
- the facility's capabilities;
- the NAICS codes;
- any special equipment/services/processes;
- special certifications or designations (for example, ISO 9000 or minority-owned business); or
- the county in which the facility is located.
Once the user receives the search results, the Kentucky Business Finder creates an e-mail notice to the selected companies to help initiate the business connection. "We've tried to make the Kentucky Business Finder as friendly as possible to everyone who interacts with it, from the registrant to the end user," Strong said.
Any business with at least one facility operating in Kentucky may register with the network. The database is not intended for use by consumers, but rather, by businesses looking for suppliers and business partners.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency in Kentucky responsible for creating new jobs and new investment in the state. New business investment in Kentucky in 2004 totaled nearly $2.3 billion with the creation of just over 16,500 new jobs. Information on available development sites, workforce training, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other resources is available at www.thinkkentucky.com.
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