Lt. Gov. Hampton quietly moving Bluegrass State forward

Unlike the often outspoken governor, Jenean Hampton has spent much of her stint as lieutenant governor working quietly behind the scenes. Earlier this year, Gov. Matt Bevin dropped Hampton — the first African-American woman to be elected to a statewide office — as his running mate on his second-term ticket in favor of the more legislatively experienced Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester.

While she respectfully accepted Bevin’s decision — bowing out with grace — the lieutenant governor’s passion isn’t politics; it is education. And her contributions to Kentucky students will be her legacy, lasting long after her four-year term expires.

One initiative that she started three years ago, in an effort to tap into the wealth of creativity and innovation of state high school students, is the Lt. Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge. Inspired by small-business owners across the commonwealth, Hampton launched the competition to encourage the next generation to think outside the box.

With $100,000 in scholarship money on the line, the LGEC is broken down into four components, each of which is weighted and totaled in an overall score. Teams of at least two teens, but no more than four, and an adult adviser must devise a written business plan; oral presentation or pitch; one-minute marketing video; and tradeshow booth display.

By prompting high-schoolers to think about the process of designing, launching and running a new small business, the challenge exposes possible future entrepreneurs to the realistic business environment while promoting ownership and highlighting values, attitudes and beliefs.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy,” Hampton said. “It is critical for students not only to learn about and experience entrepreneurship but also for them to see themselves as the next generation of small-business owners.”

We wholeheartedly agree. With the recent departures of local big box stores in some communities and a growing affinity for online shopping, small community niche businesses are needed now more than ever. Thank you, Lt. Gov. Hampton, for envisioning the future of Kentuckians beyond your four years in office.