Natascha Richardson was among 32 high school students from across Southern and Eastern Kentucky who graduated from The Center for Rural Development’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) program on June 18 at The Center in Somerset after attending a week-long session focused on helping them grow their business and entrepreneurial abilities.
Richardson of Estill County served on a team including Abigail Corder, Pulaski County; Ryan Martin, Casey County; and Callie Ann Dixon, Knox County. Their project was “Executive Jewelers,” a jewelry store specializing in upscale jewelry and personalized shopping. The week culminated with a Business Concept Competition, in which seven ELI student teams pitched their business plans to a panel of regional business leaders. The teams delivered eight-minute presentations to the judges, who portrayed business lenders.
“The students worked together as a team and used their business and entrepreneurial skills to create seven innovative business concepts unique to Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” Jessica Melton, associate director of leadership and training for The Center, said. “Several of the business concepts presented to the panel of judges addressed needs to improve the lives of children and adults throughout the region.”
“The overall goal of ELI is to provide participants with the skills they need to become the region’s next business leaders and entrepreneurs, and this year’s graduates have certainly proven they have the talent and desire to make that happen,” Melton said. “It has been an honor to work with such an energetic and creative group of students.”