Adair County High School student Laney Stotts graduates Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute program


Adair County High School student Laney Stotts put her business skills to work this summer at The Center for Rural Development’s 2019 Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.Stotts was among 25 high school students from 19 Kentucky counties to attend ELI, a summer youth leadership program for aspiring student entrepreneurs, held July 22-26 at The Center in Somerset.

ELI is an intensive week-long program focused on developing creativity, teamwork, and business and leadership skills. Students work together in business teams to develop a written business concept for a new business venture or product idea.

Shelton Ansley of Kentucky Highlands Investments Corp. taught the curriculum for this year’s program and helped students prepare to present their business plans before a panel of judges at the ELI Business Concept Challenge Competition.

Stotts, a member of the ELI business team, “The Center for Health, Education, and Wellness,” pitched a business idea for a multi-purpose wellness center to help address health-care issues in Eastern Kentucky.

“This year’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute was an exceptional testament to the talents of our youth and the region’s next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “We need bold, innovative ideas to grow the economy of Southern and Eastern Kentucky. It was encouraging to see these students come up with ideas to make our region more eco-friendly and address some of the challenges they see as growing problems in rural Kentucky.”

Each of the five ELI business teams presented their business ventures or product ideas to a panel of judges acting as potential business investors on the final day of the program at the ELI Business Concept Challenge Competition for a chance to win a college scholarship offer. Each member of the winning team will receive a $16,000 Provost scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky University.


Stotts is the daughter of Donna Stotts of Columbia.

ELI is presented by The Center for Rural Development in partnership with Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and Eastern Kentucky University.

Business sponsors of the 2019 ELI program were the Courtyard by Marriott Somerset, Team Modern, Mellow Mushroom, Honey Baked Ham, Buffalo Wings and Rings, Sassy Spoon Catering, Fazolis, Ruckel’s, Donatos, Karen’s Catering, and Baxter’s Coffee.

Special appreciation goes to Amon’s Bakery and Doug Stephens, Somerset Community College and Eric Woolridge, Somerset Hardwood Flooring and Steve Merrick, the Pulaski County Recycling Center and Danny Masten, and Eastern Kentucky Pride Cathy Lennox and Cindy Lackey for helping with the ELI program.

For more information on ELI, contact Allison Cross, community liaison and youth programs coordinator, at 606-677-6000,, or visit


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