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McCreary County student Erin Wilson is building her business and entrepreneurial skills at the 2017 Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) program

McCreary Central High School student Erin Wilson is building her business and entrepreneurial skills this summer at The Center for Rural Development’s 2017 Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI).

ELI, a one-week summer leadership camp for student entrepreneurs, provides high school students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky with an in-depth look at what it takes to start their own business venture — from idea development to building a model prototype of their business concept.

“Our Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute gives aspiring student entrepreneurs the skills they need to become successful business owners and entrepreneurs in Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” said Delaney Stephens, community liaison and youth programs coordinator for The Center. “The program this year will focus on idea development and how to sell that idea. Students will work in teams to come up with a business concept, develop a business plan, and create a model prototype of their business idea.”

The Center is partnering with the Kentucky Innovation Network in Richmond and the Community & Leadership Development Department at the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment to provide program instruction. Most of the ELI curriculum is based on the E-Discovery Program developed by UK’s Community & Leadership Development Department.

ELI will be held on the campus of The Center for Rural Development in Somerset during the week of July 24-28. On the final day of the program, ELI business teams will compete in the Business Concept Challenge competition. Members of the winning team will earn a $3,500 renewable scholarship from Eastern Kentucky University.

Wilson is the daughter of Michael and Jennifer Wilson of Stearns.

For more information on ELI or any of The Center’s summer youth leadership programs, call 606-677-6000, email, or visit

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.

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