TCHS students graduate from leadership institute

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Two high school students from Taylor County learned what it takes to start and manage a successful business venture this summer at The Center for Rural Development's Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.

Danielle Dickens and Sarah Dickens, students at Taylor County High School, attended the 2013 ELI Class and graduated from the program on June 14 at The Center in Somerset.

ELI, a week-long leadership and entrepreneurial program for high school students within The Center's 45-county primary service area, provides hands-on training and practical learning experience on how to start a business, from developing a marketing plan to reading financial statements.

During the latest session of ELI, 29 high school students from 17 Kentucky counties worked in teams to create written business concepts for six start-up business ventures in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Danielle Dickens, 15, a member of the "MedAssist Application" ELI business team, crafted a business plan for a medical app for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.

"This program has helped me learn how to write a business plan," she said. "I also learned how to work with diverse people."

Sarah Dickens, a member of the ELI business team, "Kentucky Connections," developed a business concept for an app that showcases Kentucky's best attributes and businesses.

"The Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, or ELI, gives participants a real-world look into the process of starting a business," said Delaney Stephens, community liaison and youth programs coordinator for The Center.

"It is encouraging to see these young aspiring leaders of our region already driven to achieving success in their lives."

ELI student teams worked with Pat Bradley, small business training specialist for Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp., an affiliate of The Center, and other business experts to write their business plans.

Other business concepts included "Signal 5," a restaurant that serves only locally grown products; "Mountain Top," a restaurant featuring locally grown, organic pesticide-free produce; "Lake Cumberland Learning Center," a nonprofit facility for children and teens with special needs, and the overall winning ELI team, "Fudgalicious Fudgery," a local fudge shop catering to tourists and marketing to online customers.

The winning team members of the 2013 ELI Business Concept Competition will receive a Presidential Scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

Danielle and Sarah Dickens are the daughters of Michelle and Harvey Dickens of Campbellsville.

For more information on ELI and other summer youth leadership programs at The Center, contact Stephens at (606) 677-6000 or email youth@centertech.com.