By Rachel Droege, Class of 2017

It’s rare to find someone who is as devoted to helping his hometown flourish as Sam Coleman, Jr.  As a retired officer from the United States Marine Corps, Capt. Coleman now resides in Middlesboro, KY with a passion for helping his community.

Coleman is the director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) in the state's southern region. He specializes in helping potential and existing businesses grow. He works with an average of 100 clients every year. However, only five to ten will actually start a business.

“Well, we don’t have a shortage of entrepreneurs. Ideas are never the problem. The problem is the interjection – it has to make economic sense.” Coleman said. “You may be a great plumber, but you may not understand the business of plumbing. I don’t guarantee success or failure. I guarantee economic understanding of what you want to do. I think we’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

In 2010, Coleman was inducted into the KSBDC’s Million Dollar Loan Club, honoring his assistance with more than $1 million in loans. Coleman attributes his success to his passionate clients.  Coleman says Appalachia is full of free thinkers and talented people. With the help of the internet, they can do business anywhere in the world.

Coleman left his job in Florida to return home to Middlesboro, so he could be with his mother. This family man truly values the people of Appalachia. In addition to his work developing small businesses, Colman serves on several local boards. He devotes much of his time to make the region better. “If I’m not going to make it better, then who is?”

He enjoys the Southern way of life. When reflecting upon the different cultures he’s experienced throughout his travels, Coleman truly values Southern hospitality. “There’s just something about that place called home. It may not be much, but it’s mine.”