DOBSON — The focus was on nurturing young, local businesspersons Monday at the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology on the Dobson campus of Surry Community College.
According to Associate Director for NC REAL Entrepreneurship Melinda Todd, the awards ceremony of the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) program’s REAL Innovative Student Enterprises initiative are another step in the process of developing a “pipeline” filled with talented entrepreneurs in the region.
Todd explained the group also has been active in developing a regional support team of community members committed to helping youth entrepreneurship. REAL also has trained teachers in Surry and Yadkin counties on incorporating entrepreneurship into courses.
Todd said the initiative is a collaboration carried out by NC REAL Entrepreneurship, Surry Community College and Surry, Mount Airy, Elkin and Yadkin public school systems, local governments, economic development commissions including Elkin and numerous community organizations. She indicated the project also has been supported by the Golden LEAF Foundation.
“There are lots of new ideas and new ways of doing things (in this trying economic time),” began Surry Community Vice President of Corporate and Continuing Education Dr. George Sappenfield. “Anytime you want to come to Surry Community College or have an idea and need an expert to talk to just call our main number and ask. The door is always open. We probably have an expert you can talk to.”
Sappenfield told the group of 15 teams while he was in college he was one of the persons who helped develop Frisbee golf. He told them he was the first to set up a nine-hole course and called Whamo to ask if they would donated Frisbees and hula hoops for his project.
“Frisbee golf was not totally my idea but the concept of setting up a course was my idea,” added Sappenfield. “I thought it was a fun way of doing things. I didn’t know then it would be a world wide sport. Never give up on an idea.”
He told the room filled with young entrepreneurs Whamo sent representatives out to see his course and seven years later the target to hit in Frisbee golf was changed from a hula hoop to a basket. Sappenfield estimated about 4,000 such courses exist in the Continental United States.
“The other part of being an entrepreneur is getting to do something you thoroughly enjoy doing,” said Sappenfield. “Take advantage of this idea and go for it. We’re excited you’re here and excited to hear your presentations.”
Todd told the group other partners in the initiative included the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI) and the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
“I would also like to recognize the many teachers who have contributed a lot of time to taking additional classes and personal time to help students learn the skills in this area (entrepreneurship),” said Todd. She said the initiative had begun in the fall with seed money to students to develop their businesses. She said many of the students would be starting their businesses the next school term while others already had begun.
Todd said she was impressed with the logos, slogans and manufacturing of products done by the groups.
“Now that you know how to start a business,” added Todd, “think about other ways to earn money to go to college or buy your first car.” Todd said that more than 150 students from Yadkin and Surry counties presented plans. Top middle and high school teams were awarded first prize and a $300 cash award. Three teams were from middle schools with a dozen more from the high school ranks.
The winning high school team was “North Store” from North Surry. Its members are Teresa McCann, Amber Childress, Morgan Shadrick, Falisaty Tate, Jordan Flippen, Hailey Sprinkle, Alisha Billings, Becky Miller, Riley Fillius, Malea Gwyn and Daniel Moser. Their advisor was Kim Atkins.
Other teams competing were The Twisted Talon from Forbush High School; Bear’s Chairs from Mount Airy High; iShade, Spirit Chains and Bandz from Elkin; Christmas Trees, Cattle Sales, Plant Sales and The Click from North Surry; SnapCaps from East Surry High School; Juvenile Jewelry and Swagged Ducktlets from Meadowview Middle School; and Splash of Color from Pilot Mountain Middle School.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.