CORBIN — Two local women were recently recognized for their achievements in business and leadership.

Kristin Smith and Sandi Curd were honored earlier this month for their exceptional leadership to the region during the Mountain Women Mean Business Conference in Harlan.

The conference was led by Sky Marietta of the Community Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky with a steering committee of women in Harlan comprised of Amanda Colton-Wolfe, April Collins, Amanda Middleton, Ashley Bledsoe and Laura Adkinson. The goal of the conference was to support and empower the variety of businesses in Appalachia that are led by women.

Honorees were nominated by organizations around the region, with the selections made by an independent review panel.

The “Downtown Revitalization Award” was given to Smith, a co-founder, owner and head chef of The Wrigley Taproom and Eatery in Corbin.

“We all love to eat Kristin’s food, but this award is actually about how the Wrigley has transformed downtown Corbin, and the entire constellation of women that she has brought up in the process,” Marietta said, adding that Smith works closely with local women farmers to source products and mentors women chefs.

Smith was surprised and honored to be chosen for the downtown revitalization award.

“I love that eastern Kentucky is looking at local foods as one answer to economic growth,” Smith said. “It was amazing to sit next to business owners in eastern Kentucky changing our story, investing in our region and making new things happen.”

During the conference Smith learned that some of the challenges facing business owners are universal, including: staffing, fair wages and access to funding.

“I learned about amazing strategies from other business owners who are addressing these issues creatively,” Smith added. “I would have never learned about them if it weren't for this conference. Mountain Women Mean Business was the conference we needed and didn't know we needed.”

Being in a room full of self-starters who are getting things done was electrifying, according to Smith, who is excelling in all aspects of her career.

“This conference gave attendees the jumpstart to carry our momentum forward and continue to grow, improve, and develop. I'm already looking forward to the next opportunity to get together with MWMB again,” she said.

The “Eastern Kentucky Leadership Award” was given to Sandi Curd of Kentucky Highlands Investment Company. She serves as the coordinator of the Promise Zone, and the award acknowledges the work that Curd does to support and connect the myriad of organizations and individuals in southeastern Kentucky that are improving the quality of life and growing the economy.

“Sandi serves as the north star for all of the organizations in the regions,” said Marietta, who presented the awards. “She works tirelessly to keep us all working together and collaborating towards our shared goals.”

Curd was actually helping with nominations for the conference and said she was surprised that someone threw her name in.

“I was even more honored when I found out I got the leadership award,” Curd said.

With her work in the Promise Zone, Curd advocates for mountain women who mean business and tries hard to connect with the resources that exist for free to help them be as successful as they can be in their business. Additionally Curd said the conference break-out sessions were amazing and beneficial for the attendees.

Whitesburg native Lacy Hale was awarded the “Artist Impact” award for her work. Hale’s artwork can be purchased at 115 Main Street in Corbin beside Second & Main.

The conference featured eight panels and six workshops and drew more than 100 attendees.

For those mountain women who mean business that didn’t have the chance to attend the conference, Smith offered some advice and said collaborate with others, don't isolate yourself or think you have to fly solo.

“I've gotten some of my best inspiration from talking to other business owners,” said Smith. “Don't be afraid to ask advice from others or find ways to work together."

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