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Marissa Alley of Clay County will grow her business and entrepreneurial skills this summer at The Center for Rural Development’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI)


Clay County’s Marissa Alley has been selected to attend The Center for Rural Development’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) summer youth leadership program and will grow her business and entrepreneurial skills as a representative of the region’s next generation of leaders.


Alley, a student at Clay County High School, will attend ELI during the week of June 12-17 held on the grounds of The Center in Somerset, where she will work with business professionals to receive the tools to launch a start-up business. 

“ELI focuses on creativity, teamwork, and the development of business skills, and encourages participants to consider starting their own business as a career option,” Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, said. “As a team, they work together to develop a business plan and present that plan to a panel of potential investors in a business concept competition on the final day of the program.”

Members of the first-place business concept team are eligible to receive a Presidential Scholarship from Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond, Ky. The winning team also will be recognized at the 10th anniversary celebration of 2011 Excellence In Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) “Decade of Distinction” awards luncheon program on Sept. 12 at The Center.

“The Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) program is such a rewarding experience for these students,” youth programs coordinator Lauren Hayes said. “They have the opportunity to learn how to develop a business, work on product, marketing, and financial plans and see firsthand the benefits of being an entrepreneur by meeting with local and state entrepreneurs.

“I look forward to watching these students’ creativity,” she added. “I know many of them will succeed, and I wonder how far they will reach with the knowledge they learn during this program.”

High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors within The Center’s 42-county primary service area are eligible to apply for ELI. Program expenses (excluding transportation costs to and from the host site) are provided free of charge to participants and their parents.

Alley is the daughter of Hazel and Levi Alley of Manchester.

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