Location: Southeast Kentucky
A project of: Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Research Development
Contact: Aleta Botts, Executive Director, abotts@kcard.info

Founded in 2015 in the center of Southeast Kentucky, Mountain Tech Media is a mission-driven, multi-stakeholder cooperative focused on growing the economy in Eastern Kentucky. Mountain Tech Media provides diversified technology and digital design services to organizations and businesses in the Appalachian region and beyond. Since its launch, several members at Mountain Tech Media are on their way to becoming worker-owners of the cooperative.

“I believe that being structured as a cooperative is the number one reason why Mountain Tech Media will succeed in Southeastern Kentucky,” explained Geoff Marietta, investor and co-founder of Mountain Tech Media. “There are incredibly talented individuals here. Many of them have the raw skills to do the work; however, many of them do not want to do the back-end business pieces, such as invoicing and marketing. Forming a cooperative helped us organize these people talented in technology under the umbrella of Mountain Tech Media and immediately allowed us to offer many services.”

Mountain Tech Media’s services include multimedia production, web design, app development, graphic design, animation, photography, tech consulting, and specialized crowdsourcing solutions. These services are provided through a network of eight talented individuals currently.

Meeting the Needs of Workers and Clients

“We got KCARD involved at the end of 2015, and they were great,” said Marietta. “They came and met with us and Appalshop to discuss what a cooperative is, how control works in a cooperative, and how to have ownership shares. Suddenly I saw it: basically, the same structure as a C-Corp, S-Corp or LLC, but you are providing this incentive for worker-owners to actually be invested in the company.”

Mountain Tech Media turned to the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) to assist with the formation of the cooperative and how the complex governance structure would work. KCARD worked with Mountain Tech Media on how the cooperative structure would work for this business and helped with membership agreements.

“There isn’t a diversified digital technology company in the region,” stated Jeremy McQueen, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Tech Media. “We offer a one-stop-shop for a client’s tech and digital needs. As we work with clients, we are sharing the ideas of investing in various types of digital projects to bring them up to speed with what other people in national markets are doing.

Mountain Tech Media in the Future

McQueen and Marietta are positive the future for Mountain Tech Media is dependent on the cooperative structure and their worker-member’s input into the business as it grows. As more workers become members in the cooperative, Mountain Tech Media will evolve not just to meet the worker-owner’s needs, but also meet the needs of new clients.

“We are definitely building as we go, but our structure has been very innovative,” stated Marietta. “This is the type of structure we need in rural economies where geographical distance and population density really does create a barrier to the means of organizations to serve customers better.”