FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2017) – The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is ramping up its focus on startups and entrepreneurship growth following a record year of investment in the commonwealth. As part of this effort, the Cabinet has added Brian Mefford to the position of executive director within the Office of Entrepreneurship.
Mefford previously founded Connected Nation Inc., an internationally recognized broadband services firm, where he served as CEO for nearly a decade. He later founded CNX, an offshoot of Connected Nation, where he led the development of a patent-pending software platform that allows government entities to partner with broadband service providers to share assets, information and processes to accelerate fiber broadband and 5G network growth.
“The Office of Entrepreneurship is an essential part of our business development plans here at the Cabinet,” said Vivek Sarin, executive officer at the Cabinet. “With this in mind, we are delighted to add an experienced, proven business leader like Brian Mefford to our team, who will help guide our small business and entrepreneurial initiatives in an evolving economic landscape. His successful entrepreneur track record speaks for itself and his addition to our staff will accelerate our ability to stay ahead of the curve in terms of the development of startups in Kentucky and the advocacy of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“Brian Mefford has an extensive business and entrepreneurial background that makes him uniquely qualified to fill this vacancy within our Cabinet,” said Terry Gill, secretary at the Cabinet. “He has built companies from the ground level that have gone on to gain international recognition, and he understands the day-to-day challenges facing new businesses. I look forward to working with Brian and welcome him to our team as we look to build on last year’s record success.”
Mefford’s background also includes experience within the public sector, having consulted with the United States Congress in 2008 leading up to the approval of the State Broadband Initiative, as well as an advisory role with the FCC and US Commerce Department in the creation of the national broadband map to spur local broadband expansion. Internationally, he has served as a US Ambassador to the International Telecommunications Union, a technology advisor on the International Advisory Panel for the Prime Minister of Malaysia and as the US advisor to the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) India. Last April, Mefford was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Thanks to his experience in both the public and private sectors, Mefford brings to the Office of Entrepreneurship a vast understanding of the challenges facing new businesses. He said he is ready to jump into his new role right away.
“Across the private and public sectors in Kentucky, there is a great deal of startup energy and entrepreneurial momentum percolating that is ready to be taken to the next level,” Mefford said. “Our first goal is to consolidate and streamline efforts across state government that relate to entrepreneurs, so that the Cabinet, working with our private sector partners, can provide a propulsion system for innovative startup businesses throughout the state.”
Mefford added that in his new role, he will build the Office of Entrepreneurship’s mission on three key pillars: innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship, with a focus on activities that support companies and entrepreneurs with the potential for high growth.
“To the extent that many resources for entrepreneurs are either not known or are disaggregated, we will bring cohesion and awareness to all things that Kentucky can offer to accelerate entrepreneurs and innovators from idea to scale-up,” he said.
Mefford, who is a graduate of Centre College and the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, lives with his wife, Allison, and three children in Warren County.
He began serving in the new role last week.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.