Louisville nanoneedle maker named state small business person of year

A Louisville businessman who pioneered nanoneedles — tiny needle-like rods a fraction of the size of a human hair — has been named 2013 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year by the state office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Mehdi Yazdanpanah, CEO and founder of NaugaNeedles, discovered the nanoneedle technology while working on his doctorate in electrical engineering. Nanoneedles are now used in biomedical applications, sensors and tools for semiconductor manufacturers, among other applications.

Yazdanpanah said in a news release that creating jobs is his goal. NaugaNeedles has 10 employees, and he envisions having 100 to 200 employees one day.

NaugaNeedles' patented devices are being used by more than 150 research groups around the world, according to the SBA, and the company has received research grants from the state and federal governments.

At an event in Washington in June, a national Small Business Person of the Year will be selected from the state winners.

The Kentucky SBA also announced its 2013 Small Business Advocates:

■ Donna Smith, owner of Donna J. Smith & Co. and co-owner of Stivers & Associates in Lexington, was named Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year.

■ Dee Dee Harbut, special programs director for the Kentucky SBDC Network, Lexington, was named Kentucky Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year.

■ Patricia Krausman, University of Kentucky SBDC director, Elizabethtown, was named Kentucky Veteran Small Business Advocate of the Year.

■ Joyce Green, owner of Jordan Hill Farms and Karizma and one of the founders of Business Babes Society in Richmond, was named Kentucky Woman Business Advocate of the Year.

All the Kentucky winners will be honored at an event in Frankfort on May 22.