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To nominate businesspeople for a 2012 EIEA award, access our online EIEA nomination form by clicking here.

Interested persons may also contact The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000, visit The Center’s website at; or call EKU’s College of Business and Technology at 859-622-2334 or via email

The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program—honoring excellence since 2001—is now accepting nominations for the region’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs who have launched and are managing successful business enterprises in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Nominations will be accepted through June 4 in five business award categories, including a new award entry that recognizes the accomplishments of young entrepreneurs.

For the first time this year, EIEA will honor the work of young entrepreneurs (25 years of age and younger) who are currently operating successful businesses in the region.

The new business awards category was announced earlier this year by EIEA program sponsors to recognize the energy and creativity of the region’s youngest business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“The Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards (EIEA) program’s purpose is to raise the awareness of the contributions of high achieving entrepreneurs. Stephen Taylor, EIEA committee chairman and development director for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, said. “And now with the addition of the Young Entrepreneurs category, motivated people under the age of 25 have a category in which to compete.”

Stephen Taylor, EIEA committee chairman 
Development Director for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation

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

Nominations will be accepted in the following EIEA categories:

  • 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)

“Southeastern Kentucky has about 40,000 microenterprises, businesses with five or fewer employees,” Taylor said. “Like these small businesses, the entrepreneurs leading many of the region’s enterprises started in their garages, a basement or a spare room to become economic engines.”

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 EIEA program, sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) College of Business and Technology, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, The Center for Rural Development, and its newest partner, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), honors business leaders and entrepreneurs who exemplify America’s spirit of entrepreneurship.

Nominations may be submitted by any individual or business within the EIEA’s 55-county service area on or before June 4. Those counties include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Boyle, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalf, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Taylor, Wayne, Whitley, or Wolfe