Students Accepted to Young Entrepreneurs Academy

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce kicked off the second year of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) on October 23.

The Class of 2019 includes 14 students from Lowndes High, Valdosta High, Valdosta Early College Academy, Pine Grove Middle, Newbern Middle, Brooks County Middle, and Valdosta Middle, as well as home schools.

A competitive application process required students to complete an essay, write responses to short answer questions, submit their school transcripts and a reference, and participate in an in-person interview prior to acceptance into the program.

Throughout the school year students will work with local business leaders, community leaders and educators to learn how to develop business ideas and objectives, write a business plan, pitch to investors, obtain funding, register with governmental agencies, and establish e-commerce and a web presence.

Program sponsors participated in the class orientation on October 16, including Jeff Hanson (Southwest Georgia Bank - Superstar Sponsor), Peter Layne (Home Depot - Investor Pitch Event Sponsor), and Ben Blanton (Blanton & Griffin Insurance Agency - Student Sponsor).

According to one of the parents, Yvette Jones, “I am glad that (sponsors) are making their presence known. The students need to see and know that the people who have committed to the program are truly invested in their progress and growth.”  Her son, Darius, is a student participating in the program from Pine Grove Middle School.

Parental support and encouragement is an important factor and was exemplified by the family presence during the program orientation.

“I believe the program will give (my son) more than what the traditional classroom has to offer. I wanted to provide him with an experience of understanding the power of owning oneself, and he’s worth it,” stated Calissia Singleton, whose son, Alex, is participating in the program this year from Valdosta Middle School.

By the end of the 20-week class, students own and operate fully-formed and functioning businesses, which may be carried after their graduation from the program. Caleb Hunter’s mother, Kelly Hunter, said, “I know (Caleb) will learn and have experiences that will shape his entire future. It takes a lot of work to succeed, and this will be a good taste of the effort that must be put in.”