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The Eastern Kentucky University Small Business Development Center’s Small Town Merchant Program (STMP), in partnership with the City of Berea, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) and the Somerset/Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, will bring custom retail, restaurant and entrepreneur business audits to Madison and Pulaski counties.

The audits will assess everything from curbside appeal to pricing structure, and much more.  

“We are incredibly excited to bring this program back to our Commonwealth,” said EKU SBDC Assistant Director/Management Consultant Jason Rainey. “Through this program we’ll be able to assist retailers, restaurants and entrepreneurs in our rural communities by helping them build better businesses and, in turn, better local economies.”  

“Our hope is that STMP will help retailers, restaurant owners and local entrepreneurs alike adapt their businesses to a changing economy and evolving customers,” Rainey added. “The business audits will be a valuable tool to help business owners focus on key areas that need attention to grow the business.”

The Small Town Merchant Program will kick off each morning with free breakfast featuring local fare and a workshop-specific topic. The first two days are scheduled in Berea on Aug. 29 and 30, and the program will conclude in Somerset on Aug. 31. These two-hour sessions, featuring national retail consultant Marc Willson, will focus on the timely topic of staying relevant to a changed customer. Following the session, several attendees will be selected to receive a special business audit by Willson himself.

Following the STMP kickoff, EKU SBDC officials will meet with attendees and other interested entrepreneurs to offer additional business audits and continuing assistance in further refining their businesses.

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs are always looking for a competitive edge,” said Dr. Tom Martin, executive director for the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at EKU. “This complementary program offered by EKU SBDC provides critical feedback on their operations, strategies for customer acquisition and retention, and improving their value proposition – not just locally, but globally.”

To learn more about the Small Town Merchant Program, including dates, times and locations, visit, or call 859-622-2334.