Young Professionals of East Kentucky (YPEK) is teaming up with Alice Lloyd College’s Entrepreneurial Development Program and the Kentucky Innovation Network office at Morehead State University to launch an Entrepreneur Academy aimed at young professionals. The academy will be focused 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. Kevin Smith, founder and President of YPEK, said the goal of the program is to spur more entrepreneurship among young leaders. “Through the Entrepreneur Academy, we aspire to elevate the level of young professional entrepreneurship across the region. As a result, strengthen and diversify our economy by cultivating a robust entrepreneurial community.”
The program will have a strong educational component that teaches business owners about emerging trends, the power of the web, innovative means of financing, and more. Halie Smith, Director of the Entrepreneurial Development Program and a Business instructor at Alice Lloyd, said a strong foundation of the technical skills of running a business is vital. “We are looking to provide young professionals with a wide array of essential business knowledge in a unique environment. The skills that will be acquired through this program are invaluable to current and aspiring entrepreneurs.”
In addition to providing a technical foundation, the program will allow attendees to create a strong network and to learn from regional business leaders. Johnathan Gay of the Kentucky Innovation Network at Morehead State said it is important that young entrepreneurs in the area be able to lean on one another. “Our hope is that these entrepreneurs can call on one another well into the future and collaborate and share lessons learned, contacts, and more.” He also said learning from highly successful EKY business owners would 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 that.”
Finally, the academy will celebrate these entrepreneurs’ efforts throughout the program and after. Kevin Smith said these entrepreneurs represent the future of the region, and East Kentucky needs to do all it can to support their efforts. “The future of our region depends on growing our economy. Small businesses are the economic backbone and the job creators of our economy. These entrepreneurs have chosen to work hard, follow their dream, and create jobs right here in the mountains. Let’s work together to support and encourage their endeavors to grow their businesses, create jobs, and contribute to our region.”