Last updated: January 21. 2014 4:43PM - 899 Views
Johnathan Gay



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In recent years, East Kentucky has had more than its share of highly successful entrepreneurs. People like Jim Booth, Jean Hale, Terry Forcht and Lynn Parish come to mind as a few who built business empires. These leaders help provide employment and civic leadership on a daily basis in our region. In the future, business leaders will probably have to grow without the benefit of valuable coal. That commodity helped fuel our economy in a way that no single factor likely will. The result will probably be a much more diverse economy.


Who will create this next economy? My organization, the Kentucky Innovation Network, along with partners at Alice Lloyd College and the Young Professionals of East Kentucky, believe that the young professionals aged 22-40 who currently live and work in the region are the ones who will create the next economy.


Our organizations have teamed up to launch an Entrepreneur Academy aimed at young professionals. The academy will focus on three types of entrepreneurs: those trying to launch an innovative startup business, young business owners or managers who want to grow innovative businesses, and seasoned young professional business owners who are looking for new skills or ways of doing business.


The academy will occur over a six-month period and is the first of its kind in East Kentucky to be aimed at younger professionals. It will have a strong educational component that teaches business owners about emerging trends, the power of the web, innovative means of financing, and more.


In addition to providing a technical foundation, the program will allow attendees to create a strong network and to learn from regional business leaders. Our hope is that these entrepreneurs can call on one another well into the future and collaborate and share lessons learned, contacts, and more. Learning from highly successful EKY business owners will also be helpful. There’s a lot that you just don’t learn from books. We’re interested in bringing in some of the more successful business men and women to talk to these folks about these sorts of lessons.


Finally, the academy will celebrate these entrepreneurs ‘efforts throughout the program and afterwards. As a result, we hope, fellow Eastern Kentuckians will embrace what these entrepreneurs are trying to accomplish and will be able to support their endeavors in some way in the future.


I’m excited to see the various business models and meet the different entrepreneurs that emerge in this course. We don’t know who has an idea that can revolutionize our area economy, but we believe this academy and ones like in the future have the ability to identify these leaders.


To register for the academy or just to learn more please visit www.ypek.org and register by January 31. For questions, email me via our Morehead State, Kentucky Innovation website at www.kyinnovation.com.

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