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Kentucky Construction Businesses Graduate from 2023 Construction Diversity Accelerator

University of Kentucky (UK), Turner Construction and the Kentucky APEX Accelerator recently graduated 16 participants representing 13 companies from the 2023 Construction Diversity Accelerator (CDA). This is the second cohort to participate in the accelerator, a 10-week program designed to give minority, women and veteran-owned construction and related businesses the skills they need to be competitive in their industry.

Graduates of the 2023 Construction Diversity Accelerator cohort include:

· Matthew Harrell, APK Development and Construction – Louisville, KY

· Cinthia Lucio, Black Spur LLC – Sadieville, KY

· William Persley, Black Spur LLC – Sadieville, KY

· Robert Breckinridge, Brecknbrooks Properties LLC – La Grange, KY

· Carletta Kilgore, CDK Designs & Construction LLC – Louisville, KY

· Charles Simpson, Charlie Handyman Service LLC – Louisville, KY

· Bob Soffel, Critical Environmental Solutions LLC – Crestwood, KY

· Drew Everett, E&P Mobile Welding – Verona, KY

· CJ Prowant, E&P Mobile Welding – Verona, KY

· Leslie Edmondson, Edmondson Key Solutions LLC – Lawrenceburg, KY

· Arlando Morris, Jify Renovations LLC – Georgetown, KY

· Debora Logan Lawson, JLD Inc. – Lexington, KY

· John Logan, JLD Inc. – Lexington, KY

· Angel Smith, Smith & Smith's Corporation – Louisville, KY

· Lindsay Strong, Strong Contracting LLC – Lebanon, KY

· James Turley, Turley and Turley Construction LLC – Lexington, KY

CDA participants and mentors pose for a group photo
CDA 2023 participants, counselors and mentors at the 2023 CDA Graduation.

“This program was designed with UK and Turner Construction to help improve equity and diversity in contracting and remove barriers for historically underrepresented and disadvantaged small businesses,” said Kentucky APEX Accelerator Executive Director Nancy Brown. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the skills participants learn in their work with Kentucky APEX Accelerator consultants come to life as part of the mock bid process."

Throughout the program, accelerator participants go through the exercise of bidding on an active construction project at the University of Kentucky. Cohort participants competed in four teams, each with designated mentors from the University of Kentucky’s Capital Project Management Division. This year’s mentors were Keith Ingram, Denise Cooper, Sandy Redmon, Angela Walton and Raymond Haunsz.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see the skills participants learn in their work with Kentucky APEX Accelerator consultants come to life as part of the mock bid process." - Kentucky APEX Accelerator Executive Director Nancy Brown

Each team worked together to complete their capstone project, a mock bid proposal on an active Turner Construction project on UK’s campus. In addition to submitting written mock bid proposal materials, the teams also delivered an oral presentation of their proposal to an evaluation committee of industry experts. The evaluation committee then scored each team’s proposal and presentation and selected a winner.

This year’s winning team consisted of Matthew Harrell of APK Development & Construction, Bob Soffel of Critical Environmental Solutions, CJ Prowant of E&P Mobile Welding, and Debora Logan Lawson of JLD Inc. Sandy Redmon and Angela Walton mentored the winning team.

2023 Mock Bid Winners pose with their mentors.
2023 Mock Bid Winners pose with their mentors.

Consultants from the Kentucky APEX Accelerator, an initiative of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation dedicated to helping Kentucky businesses navigate the complex world of government contracting, supported the participants throughout the program and provided 110 total hours of one-on-one coaching specific to each company’s unique needs and contracting goals. Areas of assistance included business readiness assessments, finalizing a business capability statement, registering in government systems and completing government certifications such as women-owned and minority-owned designations.

“The level of understanding and the ability to walk firms through this construction accelerator is amazing,” shared J.C. Watkins, a Kentucky APEX Accelerator consultant based in Bowling Green. “Turner and UK should be very proud of their efforts to increase the number of small, diverse firms in the government contracting pipeline. The progression of firms from the beginning of the ten weeks to the end has been a joy to behold.”

The 2023 accelerator cohort participants included women, minorities, and veteran-owned businesses and represented 12 trade categories. Enterprises are located throughout the Commonwealth, demonstrating their potential to compete for bids throughout the state.

“The more knowledge small business owners have about government contracting, the greater their likelihood to succeed,” added Frank Bennet, a Kentucky APEX Accelerator consultant in Paducah. “The more they succeed, the more the Commonwealth succeeds.”

Those interested in learning more about government contracting resources available through the Kentucky APEX Accelerator, including the Construction Diversity Accelerator program, can visit

About Kentucky APEX Accelerator

Formerly known as KYPTAC, the Kentucky APEX Accelerator is an initiative of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation (KSTC) that promotes economic development and private sector business growth by providing free assistance to companies interested in providing products or services to federal, state and local governments and large primes, which annually offer billions of dollars in contracts to private sector companies. The Kentucky APEX Accelerator is funded in part through cooperative agreements with the Department of Defense and Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development. Learn more at

About Turner Construction

Turner Construction is one of the largest construction companies in the country with regional offices in Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati. The Construction Diversity Accelerator is based on the company’s acclaimed Turner School of Construction Management program, which is the oldest community outreach program in Turner’s history. It was initiated in 1969 to address the needs of diverse suppliers, and soon became an opportunity to develop strategic business relationships with minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, small and underrepresented construction-related firms. Since then, Turner has been committed to intentionally creating opportunities that lead to greater equity and inclusion in the construction industry. You can learn more about Turner's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here.

About the University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is a public, land grant university dedicated to improving people’s lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service and health care. As Kentucky's flagship institution, the university plays a critical leadership role by promoting diversity, inclusion, economic development and human well-being.


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