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Mind Your Own Business…Be an Entrepreneur

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business?  Maybe you thought of flexible hours, independence, or the creative satisfaction of being your own boss.  You may have considered that your efforts would contribute to the improvement of our community and provide better satisfaction in life.

Recently, twelve students from Ms. Debra Roberts Business Essentials class at BCHS moved beyond dreaming by focusing on youth entrepreneurship, thanks to a partnership between Okefenokee Technical College, the Alma/Bacon County Development Authority, and Bacon County High School.Bacon Co.

These students took part in an exciting learning experience: Mind Your Own Business…Be an Entrepreneur. For two weeks students participated in classroom and community activities that encouraged and supported entrepreneurship. In addition to learning principles and strategies for starting their own companies, students engaged in creative problem solving and team building activities.

The entrepreneurship program is designed to expose high school students to basic business concepts in a systematic way. Students realized that developing a business plan, targeting advertisers, and collaborating with partners are not as easy as they thought.

Judy Hesters, OTC Business and Industry Services Specialist, developed the curriculum and coordinated the classes.  John Tanner, Executive Director, and Cherry Rewis, Administrative Assistant, of the Alma/Bacon County Development Authority arranged tours of the Alma Exchange Bank and FNB South.  Students observed first-hand banking activities that entrepreneurs and business owners frequently use.  They also participated in a field trip to Industrial Forge and the Blueberry Plantation County Club. 

J. R. Charles, Entrepreneur and Small Business Director for Douglas/Coffee County Chamber of Commerce provided inspiration to the students by sharing success stories about young entrepreneurs in our area. Business owner Jay Williams spoke to the class about his experiences as a small business owner and the importance of education beyond high school.  Ms. Kate Bussey, OTC Career Counselor, invited students to the Alma Campus and encouraged them to consider the many different educational opportunities available at OTC. 

The two-week program ended with a luncheon at Jasmine Acres, where students gave a PowerPoint presentation of their business plan and marketing strategy. Andy Brannen, Vice President for Economic Development, awarded each student a certificate of completion. Students also received several other gifts compliments of the Alma/Bacon County Development Authority.  Alma Exchange Bank and FNB South gave cash awards to the team with the best overall score on their business plan presentation.  In addition to the students, over twenty local business owners, community leaders, elected officials and educators attended this inaugural event.

When it comes to business skills, marketing, personal leadership effectiveness and community understanding, these BCHS students now have a considerable edge. They are exploring the possibilities that exist in their own community to plan, create and establish new businesses.  Entrepreneurship Education is an economic development initiative to help advance the emerging workforce in our area.  And that is a very good thing for all of us.

The Alma/Bacon County Development authority applied for and was awarded the Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Fund grant that helped make this program available for Bacon County students.

A week long Entrepreneur Camp is planned for Bacon County 7th & 8th graders for the week of June 9th – 13th. If you are interested in this camp, please call the Development Authority office at 912-632-5859.

Picture 1: (l to r) Daniel Hyers, Judy Hesters, Kelley Carter, Larissa Roberts, Jessica Williams, Cherry Rewis, & Eugene Dyal


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