NEWPORT, Ky. — Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices was just one Kentucky business that received a grant this year from the Duke Energy Foundation, who is partners with the Northern Kentucky and Grant County Chambers of Commerce.

The foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to 25 small businesses in honor of Small Business Saturday. 

What You Need To Know

  • Nov. 25 was Small Business Saturday

  • 25 small businesses recieved $4,000 grants

  • According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the state’s unemployment rate returned to pre-pandemic levels in December of 2021

  • According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 18% of Kentucky businesses had to close because of the government mandate during 2020 

Susan Stewart, owner of Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices, has spent the last five years making sure her husband’s dream stays alive despite his passing.

“This was a dream of my husband’s, Colonel Dee. When we first started dating in 2004, I asked him, ‘if you could do anything in the world, what would you want to do?’ And he said, ‘I would want to open a store that sells culinary herbs and spices,’” said Stewart.

She said her husband’s love for spices dates back to when he was just a small boy.

“He grew up in Louisville with a family that loved to cook. His father and his grandfather owned a produce store in downtown Louisville,” she said.

That’s why when Stewart found out about that grant through the Duke Energy Foundation, she jumped at the chance. Now, the business is receiving $4,000 to help make packing and distribution of its products simpler.

“One of the first thing it’s going to do is it’s going to enable us to purchase co-packing equipment,” Stewart said.

She said she hopes that with this improvement, her business will grow and be able to assist other local businesses.

“We hope the business will grow by number one, enabling more small businesses to utilize what we sell and to help them grow,” said Stewart. 

Duke Energy spokesperson Sally Thelen said that during the pandemic, the company realized small businesses were at a higher risk of closure. She said the company felt that they needed to find a way to help businesses stay afloat.

“It’s great to see these small businesses thriving and to hear from them about the impact that dollars that Duke Energy is sharing with them through the grant program,” Thelen said. “It’s so meaningful to us to obviously have a role in Small Business Saturday and to give back to the communities where we live and work.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small businesses make up 99% of business in the state.

Nearly 18% of Kentucky businesses had to close because of the government mandate during 2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. That resulted in the permanent closure of some businesses.

Despite the statistics, Stewart has worked hard to keep her husband’s dream business going. She said the grant will allow them to become more efficient, sustainable and allow them to keep their doors open for many years.