Leslie County, as part of the KY Promise Zone, are receiving community support and grants to build a sustainable regional economy that benefits all persons regardless of county of residence. Implement a regional community and economic development plan that mobilizes shared resources.
Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, in partnership with eight counties in southeastern Kentucky, was designated on January 7, 2014 by the President Barack Obama as the first and only rural Promise Zone in the nation. With this designation, the partners will engage the communities in a collaborative, comprehensive process aimed at improving the overall quality of life in the region.
The eight counties included are Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, and Whitley.
The University of Kentucky is participating in the Promise Zone through their Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK) program. CEDIK will complete a Strategic Plan for the Promise Zone; provide intensive one-on-one training for 3 to 5 Promise Zone businesses; implement the American Private Enterprise System program in the school systems in the Promise Zone; and will implement the CEDIK Youth Engagement Leadership program in at least one Promise Zone county; and, they will work with local teachers to develop entrepreneurial instruction in their classrooms.
As part of the Youth Engagement Leadership program, CEDIK hosted an Entrepreneur Day with local professionals including Dr. Peter Hackbert of Berea College, Sean Moore of Bluegrass SBDC, and a local business panel, where Nicole Mueller of Startup Production and Danny Isaacs of MACED answered the Leslie County juniors and seniors asked questions about starting and running a business.
The students in the Leadership Program, after a ten week program, will develop a creative and useful idea for a bank-owned abandoned property in Downtown area of Leslie County. They will present their idea along with their market research and a business plan to the bank and city officials.
It was a fun day with the students at the Boone Tavern in Berea, KY on October 21, 2014, where the students were given many opportunities to contribute, ask questions and be part of the discussion. They were engaged and asked great questions, and were given encouragement (and candy) by Marisa Aull, Senior Extension Associate, CEDIK, who organized and facilitated the day.