Appalachia, KY. – As 2020 comes to a close, it is only appropriate to reflect on the year that has passed while embracing the opportunity of the future. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the many quarantines, shutdowns, and guidelines that came with it, Appalachia Kentucky came together and found solutions in every challenge. This region is full of businesses that are finding new ways to innovate and grow every day. Let’s take a look at ten Appalachia Kentucky companies that thrived in 2020, and are expecting bigger and better things in 2021:
AppHarvest – AppHarvest is on a mission to feed the future, from the heart of Appalachia. Jonathan Webb, Founder and CEO of AppHarvest, pitched his idea to transform eastern Kentucky into the country’s first AgTech capital at the 2017 SOAR Summit. In 2020, AppHarvest opened its flagship farm —a 2.76-million-square-foot facility— in Morehead, KY and also broke ground on two more facilities in Madison County, KY. The third high-tech controlled environment agriculture facility in Berea is expanding to grow leafy greens. The facilities will continue to expand AppHarvest’s growing space in Central Appalachia.
In just over two years, AppHarvest has attracted more than $150 million in investment into Central Appalachia and announced on September 29 a definitive agreement for a business combination with publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company Novus Capital Corporation (Nasdaq: NOVS). The combination, which was expected to close late in the fourth quarter of 2020 or early in the first quarter of 2021, will provide $475 million of gross proceeds to the company, including $375 million fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share anchored by existing and new investors –including Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC, Inclusive Capital, and Novus Capital Corporation. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named AppHarvest and is expected to remain listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol APPH. AppHarvest’s investors include Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Inclusive Capital Partners, Equilibrium, NaryaCapital, LupaSystems, Breyer Capital, and Endeavor Catalyst. Endeavor selected AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2019.
Learn more about AppHarvest at https://www.appharvest.com/.
Philips Diversified Manufacturing – Philips Diversified Manufacturing (PDM) is a contract manufacturer established in 1993. The company currently operates three warehouse and production facilities in both Clay and Jackson counties in eastern Kentucky. Their processes include assembly (mechanical and electro-mechanical), plastic injection molding, printed circuit boards and remanufacturing. They also have the ability, through long-standing suppliers, for a wide variety of metal fabrication needs.
2020 was a successful year for PDM. In the last three months, they secured a $1.7 million GE manufacturing contract. They also submitted bids with another appliance manufacturer totaling $7 million dollars. They recently implemented SAM government bidding system for government manufacturing through KYPTAC. Going into 2021, they are expecting a 25% volume increase on an existing contract. PDM has several projects in the works, including a client working on a prototype with huge potential for contract manufacturing and a pending $1 million REDLG loan for new and improved machinery and job expansion.
Learn more about Philips Diversified Manufacturing at https://www.phillipsdminc.com/.
A-1 Implements – A-1 Implements, a Montgomery County-based company, has developed the Hemp Hawk, a cutting-edge extension to farming equipment that alleviates and controls weeds.
Taylor and Travis Cooper, brothers and co-founders of A-1 Implements, grew up farming on their family farm. Through personal experience, they realized that no matter the crop, weed control is always a costly issue. In 2018, they developed the Hemp Hawk and quickly realized that their machine could revolutionize the hemp, vegetable, and tobacco industries.
A-1 Implements found success in a year that most businesses struggled to survive. To create a more diverse design, they adapted the Hemp Hawk mechanics to better equip vegetable farmers. This decision opened several new doors for the company. Prior to COVID 19, A-1 implements visited several trade shows, connecting with customers and clients. Through these connections, they were able to sell their product in 34 states this year. They also partnered with 4C Innovations and Norseman. The partnership with Norseman allowed them to complete their first international build in Australia. With new projects on the horizon and their new international connection, A-1 Implements is a must watch business for 2021.
Learn more at https://www.a1implements.com/.
Addiction Recovery Care – Despite the growing concerns in 2020 over COVID-19, Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) embraced the opportunity to innovate new ways to approach the recovery sector. As they found themselves fighting the epidemic of addiction in the middle of a pandemic, life changed, and ARC leadership knew how they treated addiction would have to change too. The company launched the ARC Anywhere App, a supportive, on-demand, online recovery community that provided telehealth substance abuse treatment through a smartphone or computer. This is a solution that will expand and transform access to treatment in Appalachia.
At this very moment, studies say nearly half of the people on Medicaid in the Commonwealth – 600,000 Kentuckians – struggle with substance use disorder, with a disproportionately high number of those folks living in eastern Kentucky. Answering the call for help, ARC opened two 100+ bed facilities, Riverplace, a men’s residential facility (Pike County), and Creekside, a women’s residential facility (Knott County). In addition to these centers, the company transformed an old college campus in Springfield, Kentucky, into the state’s most comprehensive recovery campus when the team opened Crown Recovery Center. Crown Recovery Center is set to be the first recovery center of its kind, housing more than 700 clients at capacity. The facility will offer ARC’s full continuum of care.
In 2021 ARC expects to dig in its heels to become a progressive and innovative leader for addiction recovery. They anticipate expanding services into new and existing markets through residential and outpatient facilities. Within the next few months, Crown Recovery Center is expected to become fully operational serving hundreds of clients daily. The company also plans to widen its vision with new educational opportunities through the Millard College and add to its portfolio of vocational tracks with the Addiction Recovery Studies Program. ARC is currently working with an accreditation provider so they can begin accepting federal financial aid with a vision to offer associate and bachelor degree programs in the years to come.
ARC’s unique blend of treatment and nationally renowned “Crisis to Career” model has yielded staggering success rates compared to other intervention programs. The expectation is to transform Appalachia and beyond by taking one of our most significant societal challenges and turning it into one of our greatest opportunities.
Learn more at https://www.arccenters.com/.
The Holler Creative – Dr. Kevin Flora and Josh Coppock met at a bible study at a local coffee shop in Corbin in October 2017. That introduction led to a friendship and a partnership in January 2018 to create The Holler Creative, a digital marketing company leveraging the creativity of those in Appalachia to see communities throughout the region grow and flourish.
The Holler Creative has nine employees, including seven full-time staff. They are a full-service marketing company providing services such as business consulting, marketing plan development, website design, e-commerce setup, media creation, advertising, video production, graphic design, and analytic dashboards. Dr. Flora and Coppock have made additional investments in ideas to greater leverage the digital economy: They partnered with like-minded startups to create Better Your Product (www.betteryourproduct.com), a business that aids Amazon resellers to increase their sales. Additionally, they have started a paid internship program with the University of the Cumberlands for students interested in careers in marketing. They have leveraged the internship program to identify new talent for their team.
In September 2019, The Holler Creative launched Lachian Clothing, an AppaLACHIAN-inspired apparel company and in February started Forged Sign Company to build custom signs for businesses across Appalachia.
The Holler Creative’s newest venture is Explore Appalachia, a collaboration with SOAR, The Kentucky Wildlands and Ale-8-One meant to bring attention to Appalachia’s beauty, diversity, and experiences in an effort to increase tourism and unveil the riches of the region. Episode One and Two have already been released and Episode Three is coming up soon.
You can follow The Holler, LLC at www.theholler.com or purchase an item from their apparel line at www.lachianclothing.com. Explore Appalachia with them at www.exploringapp.com or just reach out to get to know them!
Powell Valley Millwork – Powell Valley Millwork has two facilities in Jeffersonville and Clay City, KY, employing over 200 people. The team at Powell Valley are Kentuckians, Americans, and woodworkers focused on producing the highest quality Poplar products at competitive pricing while maintaining lasting relationships with employees and customers.
Powell Valley Millwork prides themselves in every step of the manufacturing process from careful procurement of raw materials, conservative drying practices, to optimization of the wood fiber through their rough mill, scanning, chopping, and finger-jointing, all the way into their molding and priming lines. At every work cell in their production facility, they utilize leading technology adhering to stringent quality control standards creating beautiful, sustainable, and durable products for every customer large and small.
Responsible management of our forests is not just an environmental concern, it is also a wise business decision. At Powell Valley Millwork, they are committed to the sustainable use of the resource we consume to create beautiful mouldings. They are proud to maintain a 100% wood-waste free facility and utilize all fiber for finished goods, fuel for their boiler, or to create shavings for animal bedding.
To learn more about Powell Valley Millwork, visit https://www.pvmillwork.com.
Slope Master – Slopemaster, LLC. is a small company based in the Floyd County community of Langley, KY. Mark Halbert and W.C. Porters, Co-Founders and Owners, are former coal dependent business owners who saw the opportunity to improve the remote-control lawn mower products that were currently on the market.
The Slope Master is one of a kind in its field. With its unique design it is the perfect companion for any large mowing job – flat or sloped up to 60 degrees. It has a range of features from its safety alert light, recovery winch, along with multiple shutoff mechanisms for complete safety in all situations. They have created a finish-cut mower for large fields, hills, highway medians and ramps using mining engineering and strength. The Slope Master is the solution to minimizing employee accidents and maximizing efficiency. It can handle the workload of an entire crew while doing it in half the time. With it’s easy to learn RC functionality anyone can pick up the remote and start mowing.
Slopemaster, LLC. has made sales to municipality utilities contractors, large mobile home lot owners, the largest college groundskeeping contractor, and many more and it is only the beginning!
Learn more at https://www.theslopemaster.com/.
Bit Source – Bit Source, a software development company based in Pikeville, KY., was established to blaze a forward-thinking trail to economic success in Appalachian Kentucky. It has tapped into the high-tech and high-touch skills of the local workforce to build a proven track record in web and app development, social media marketing, and cutting-edge technologies like virtual and augmented reality.
In 2020, Bit Source launched their latest app development, CityAware. CityAware enables municipals to connect with citizens to receive issue reports so they can solve them quickly. The city administration can then assign those issue reports to key personnel to be resolved. Citizens are capable of adding a photo to issue reports, writing out comments, and view public announcements from the city officials. Bit Source has deployed the app in several cities across Appalachia KY and plans to expand into more markets in 2021. Their team builds products to solve local, regional, national, and global challenges.
Visit https://bitsourceky.com/ to connect with their team and learn more about their products and software services.
The Gorge Underground – The Gorge Underground is a unique adventure in the Red River Gorge, offering guided tours through a spring flooded limestone mine that is entirely underground. Paddle a kayak or ride on a custom caveboat while learning the history of the cavern and viewing the beautiful rainbow trout. In this one-hour tour, you will make your way through the darkness as their expert guides lead the way illuminating the unique features of the Gorge Underground. New discoveries are to be made around every corner of this one-of-a-kind mountainside cavern. This adventure is perfect for beginners, and because the mine stays about 52 degrees year-round, the water never freezes! The Gorge Underground is open year-round and offers tours in every season. Crystal clear bottom kayaks are coming soon! Book your adventure on their website www.gorgeunderground.com.
Turtle Farm Pottery – Turtle Farm Pottery specializes in making one-of-a-kind, high quality, handmade ceramic products. Their pottery is used in and around the Red River Gorge. If you stop by Skybridge Station and order a plate of nachos or bowl of chili with some bourbon on the rocks, chances are you will be served on Turtle Farm Pottery glasses, plates, and bowls. Turtle Farm believes in building strong, unique, local economies.
You can shop locally and purchase your next favorite piece of pottery at many Red River Gorge locations, including Bedrock RRG, the Brandenburg General Store, Daniel Boone Trading Company, La Cabana Mexican Restaurant, Miguel’s Pizza, Ramble and Roam, Red River Rockhouse, Shebrews Coffeeshop and Bookstore, Skybridge Station, and Sticks, Stones, and Stitches. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Casey knew they had to make a transition from art shows and local shops to e-commerce. The Turtle Farm Pottery website made its debut in April 2020 and has experienced huge success. This is a testament of what can be achieved by having a good broadband connection in the mountains. Casey, along with his wife, Laura Gregory, and potter Noah Broomfield from Berea, KY, live and work on Turtle Farm, spinning clay into wonderful creations that bring joy and thoughtful experiences to those who use them. They harness life’s experiences into creative forms to inspire and enrich others.
Learn more at https://www.turtlefarmpottery.com/.