Skip to main content

Some exciting changes are coming this year to the annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program.

The awards recognition program—honoring excellence since 2001— is adding a new Sponsoring Partner and a new, fifth business awards category

that will recognize a top young entrepreneur who is currently running a successful business in the region.

Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), a nonprofit economic development organization based in Somerset, will be joining Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, and The Center for Rural Development as one of EIEA’s Sponsoring Partners.

Additionally, EIEA will add a fifth award category in 2012 for businesspeople who are 25 years of age and younger. The “Young Entrepreneur” business award will be added to the four existing award categories.

Award categories for the 2012 EIEA program and onward are:

  • Business (in existence five or more years with greater than 25 employees)
  • Small Business (in existence five or more years with 25 or less employees)
  • Start-Up (in existence less than five years)
  • Not-for-Profit Entity (in existence at least six months)
  • Young Entrepreneur (for businesspeople who are 25 years of age and younger)

More information on how to nominate local businesspeople for each 2012 EIEA category will be released in the coming weeks online at and

“At the start of EIEA’s second decade, Kentucky Highlands and the other EIEA partners are excited to see the EIEA program expand this year to add an additional sponsor and award category,” said Stephen Taylor, EIEA committee chairman and development director for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.

“EIEA’s newest sponsor, SKED, is a steadfast supporter of entrepreneurial endeavors,” Taylor added. “The new Young Entrepreneur category will recognize the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs up to 25 years old who are already running their own business. We heartily embrace these changes to better highlight entrepreneurial excellence in the region.”

SKED, an affiliate of The Center, was created by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) in 1986 to serve 42 counties in Southeast Kentucky. SKED works directly with individual companies, their consultants, and advisors to provide a wide range of business-related services.

“SKED has been working with entrepreneurs and small business owners for more than 25 years through its business recruitment, expansion and lending services,” said Greg Jones, SKED executive director. “We see firsthand their contribution to our economy and their role in keeping the business community flourishing.”

“In 2012, SKED is dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs to develop their dreams and pursue them with perfection,” Jones added. “We are pleased to become a sponsor of EIEA and the excellent work it does in Southeast Kentucky.”

EIEA honors small business leaders and entrepreneurs in 55 Southern and Eastern Kentucky counties for their efforts in exemplifying America’s spirit of entrepreneurship. Nominees are judged on the economic success of the enterprise, contributions to the community, job creation, and operational achievement as measured by innovative business practices, superior safety achievement, and superior technology.

The top three finalists in each of the five EIEA business categories will be recognized—and the award winners announced—on Sept. 10 at the 2012 EIEA awards luncheon hosted at The Center in Somerset.

For more information on EIEA, contact The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000 or EKU’s College of Business and Technology at 859-622-2334 or via email