PILOT MOUNTAIN — Surry County’s N.C. Cooperative Extension office, Surry Community College and the North Carolina Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning program (REAL) held an entrepreneurship day for young business persons at the Charles H. Stone Memorial Library on Monday.
According to North Carolina Extension Service Agent Teresa Wilkins, the program was held as part of a nationwide celebration recognizing the heritage of entrepreneurial leadership in America. Wilkins indicated the importance of supporting entrepreneurship education as a lifelong process.
REAL Assistant Director Arlene Childers said this marks the 26th year of the state entrepreneurship action learning program, which is made possible through the Golden LEAF Foundation. A total of five teams participated in the competition Monday. Childers said the event drew children ages 9- to 18-years from the community and home schools.
“We have had a lot of success from this effort,” said Childers. She explained the program is an entrepreneur to enterprises curriculum seeking to support a comprehensive educational strategy to improve the regional economy. Efforts have been under way since Dec. 31 and will run until Jan. 1.
Childers explained REAL seeks to improve student entrepreneurship skills and increase the students’ knowledge of high school and community college opportunities to learn about starting and running their own businesses.
Monday’s program began with activities for the participants to use critical thinking and problem solving skills as a team in a downtown ventures activity. The participants were given a package of state and county quick facts to decide on a type of business for the area and then they had to write a business proposal. The process was similar to competing for a $100,000 grant from the venture capital group Downtown Ventures.
The quick facts and model business location given to the students was for Cabarrus County. Participants had to include market and marketing plans, design a business card, mission statement and perform a commercial as well as draft floor plans for the business. They also had to determine start up costs for their proposed businesses. Once all this was done, the team had to present its proposal before a panel of judges.
Judging criteria for the competition included overall presentation, the team clearly explaining the mission of the business, the team demonstrating a clear understanding of its target market and presenting a commercial that was effective at selling a product or service and was entertaining.
Spencer Dulaney, 17, is an example of the type of business spirit the program is hoping to encourage. Dulaney, who participated in the activity Monday, said he is marking a year of business with Dulaney’s Mobile Detailing, a service that provides basic cleanups in car detailing.
He said his father, Glenn, was a big influence on him because he operates his own small business, United Processing, a credit card machine service company.
“I started out in my own business right after I got my driver’s license,” said Spencer Dulaney. “It’s not hard at all even though some cars I deal with can be real nasty.” He added that at first the business was just to earn money for college. Now his is considering continuing on for a degree in business and expanding his detailing venture.
Dulaney said that the local group Business Network International has been supportive of his efforts and provided a lot of connections for him when he began his business.
Childers said a total of 16 teams in Surry and Yadkin counties had successfully competed for a $200 seed money grant to start their own student businesses as part of the Real Innovative Student Enterprises (RISE) competition which is the next level in the program. She said all student teams will be honored at a celebration to be held at Surry Community College on Dec. 3 at 9 a.m.
All student teams will make a short presentation of their RISE business plan proposal at this celebration. She said middle school and high school winners will be announced at this event and prize money will be awarded.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.