Non-Profit Spotlight: Community Ventures

Lauren Rogers


Community Ventures knows something about making dreams of greater economic opportunity come true. Jonah Brown, Community Ventures President of Marketing, explains, “We are committed to a comprehensive approach towards community development, by finding strategic ways to meet a variety of economic and social needs for every community we serve.”

That comprehensive approach includes its lending company, which uplifts Kentucky entrepreneurs and small business owners with loans to grow their business and create jobs, a housing company whose counseling center supports first-time homebuyers and its many startup companies that target the specific economic needs of food entrepreneurs, artists and Kentucky’s most underserved urban and rural populations.

Depending on what stage of business you’re in, CV has business specialists to help you get started with a $500 microloan to help start or expand your small business all the way up to its SBA 504 Loans for equipment and capital projects. “Our mission is to support those entrepreneurs with dreams of serving Kentucky communities by operating small businesses that create vital jobs and meet important social and economic needs in their communities,” says Jonah.

In 2020, Community Ventures is excited to continue offering their housing and lending companies, (the longest-running at CV), while focusing on the growth of their newest companies such as Mustard Seed Hill, a newly-renovated campus that was once home to the former Millersburg Military Institute. Mustard Seed is now home to a wedding and special event venue/ They just wrapped up their annual Christmas holiday light attraction and market. CV was also involved with the Chef Space, West Louisville’s food incubator for budding food entrepreneurs, and now Art Inc. Kentucky, an art incubator program for Kentucky artists in the East End of Lexington. Jonah elucidates, “Art Inc. provides opportunities for business training, sales opportunities, gallery opportunities and communal studio space. We’ve also launched the Artists’ Village, a residential neighborhood in the East End where artists can build new homes with custom-fitted studios optimized for their respective art mediums.” What’s more impressive? Frank X. Walker, Kentucky’s first African-American poet laureate, is the first resident of the Artists’ Village, with more homes going under construction for new artists in the first quarter of 2020.

Get Involved: The best way to support the efforts of CV is to share your story with others about your experience working with them! For more information about Art Inc. Kentucky, the Artists’ Village, or any other Community Ventures programs, please visit, or call their office at (859) 231-0054. You can also follow them on social media – and

Here to give a deeper perspective on CV is Mark Johnson, an award-winning glass artist and photographer and the president of Art Inc. Kentucky.

TOPS: What has been most rewarding about working with this group?

MARK JOHNSON: The people. Seeing our clients realize their dreams, whether it be in business ownership or home ownership and the impact that it has on their communities.

TOPS: What has it been like to watch your vision come to fruition in Lexington?

MJ: I grew up in the East End of Lexington. To be able to now move back to this community and re-plant roots here, not just as a resident, but also bringing the Artists’ Village to the East End – it’s extremely rewarding for me.

TOPS: Do you have a favorite moment that resonates with you and captures your mission?

MJ: I will never forget the reaction on the artists’ face and the emotions he experienced in that moment when one of his paintings was purchased for the first time. To see an artist realize a dream that they thought would never happen – that feeling is indescribable.