2013 ELI winning team, “Fudgalicious Fudgery”

A plan for a tourism-based business drafted by five graduates of The Center for Rural Development’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) program has earned each of these high school students an offer of a Presidential Scholarship from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

Winning team members in the 2013 ELI Business Concept Competition are Blake Blevins, Harlan County; Laken Fitch, Lawrence County; Autumn Hall, Johnson County; Aubrey Kelley, Pulaski County; and Lyndsey Pennington of McCreary County.

The students crafted a business concept for a local fudge shop, “Fudgalicious Fudgery,” that caters to tourists in the Lake Cumberland area, locals, and customers everywhere through in-store and online sales.

“ELI has given me hands-on experience in the business field by providing me with the resources needed to create a business plan,” said winning “Fudgalicious Fudgery” team member Lyndsey Pennington, 15, a student at McCreary Central High School. “This program has been extremely insightful, and has helped to build my entrepreneurial skills.”

Other business concepts proposed by ELI teams included:

  • “Signal 5,” a local restaurant based in Pulaski County that serves only locally grown products. Team members included Lauren Wethington, Casey County; Aaron Smith, Clay County; Elijah Butler, Laurel County; and Morgan Phelps and Jordan LaFavers of Pulaski County.
  •  “MedAssist Application,” an app for doctors, nurses, patients, and other healthcare providers. Team members included Danielle Dickens, Taylor County; Kirkland Fletcher, Johnson County; Sarah Estep, Pulaski County; Ashlin Trivett, Monroe County; and Savannah Jo Johnson of Morgan County.
  •   “Kentucky Connections,” an app that showcases Kentucky’s best attributes and businesses. Team members included: Sarah Dickens, Taylor County; Matthew Dixon, Knox County; Ariel Emberton, Monroe County; and Lauren Maynard and Savannah Muse of Pulaski County.
  •  “Mountain Top,” a restaurant that serves only locally grown products and organic, pesticide-free produce. Team members included Cassidy Griffith, Breathitt County; Parisa Shamaei Zadeh, Johnson County; and Ashley Wahlman and Brian Rutherford of Pulaski County.
  •  Lake Cumberland Learning Center,” a non-profit facility for children and teens with special needs. Team members included Simon Christian, Knott County; Brooke Hachey, Russell County; Brooklyn Reid, Laurel County; and Andy Buteyn and Cassidy Dalton of Pulaski County.

The winning team was announced by youth programs coordinator Delaney Stephens on June 14 during the ELI awards and graduation program at The Center in Somerset.

A total of 29 high school students from 17 Southern and Eastern Kentucky communities graduated from this year’s session of ELI. During the week, ELI students worked with leading business experts, including Pat Bradley, small business training specialist for Southeast Kentucky Economic Development (SKED), to write a business plan and learn what it takes to become a small business owner or entrepreneur in the region.

Click here to view a Flickr gallery of photographs taken during Friday’s graduation program and other ELI activities.