Youth Business Summit draws 200 high school students

Geneva County High School won $1,000 in scholarship money at the TROY Dothan Campus event Thursday.

Geneva County High School won $1,000 in scholarship money at the TROY Dothan Campus event Thursday.

About 200 Wiregrass area high school students attended the second annual Youth Business Summit at Troy University’s Dothan Campus on Thursday.

Students from 12 schools attended workshops throughout the day, and teams from several schools participated in competitions focusing on different aspects of business.

The team from Geneva County High School won the “Shark Tank”-style Business Plan Competition for the second year in a row, earning $1,000 in Troy scholarship money for the students.

“I had a lot of fun competing against other teams in the Business Plan Competition,” said Kane Loper, a Geneva County High School junior. “It was a tough competition, but in the end we won.”

The teams created business plans and presented them to a panel of judges consisting of business leaders and Troy faculty.

Geneva County High presented a business called Dawg Tales, in which students dress up as characters to entertain children.

The students recently began taking the characters to birthday parties, an evolution from the original concept of staging events and selling tickets.

“The Business Plan Competition is designed to reach students in high schools who are entrepreneurs and give them an outlet so they can have someplace where they can develop their plan, be judged, and also for the judges to give them advice” said Dr. Skip Ames, one of the judges. “We heard their presentations, looked over their business plans and asked questions designed to get the kids thinking about different issues.”

TROY created the Youth Business Summit to expose high school students to the many facets of business they can explore in their academic and professional careers.

“We want to show students what is in their own back yard,” said Dr. Carmen Lewis, associate dean of Troy’s Sorrell College of Business. “The other aspect is that, in some form or fashion, these students have expressed an interest in business. We can expose them to the different business disciplines – accounting, marketing, finance, human resources, and so on. We want to expose them to it early on, so then these students have an idea of what the term ‘business’ encompasses.”

Geneva County junior Gracie Brock said she learned more than she expected during the event.

“I’ve just been having fun listening to them talk about all the business opportunities out there,” Brock said. “I’ve learned a lot about business and success, and I hope to bring some of that back to my classmates.”

Administrators view the event as particularly valuable since business isn’t often a heavy focus in high school outside the classroom.

“I’m extremely proud of Geneva County High and (teacher Jessie) Hendrix for taking this on and exposing our students to things they wouldn’t otherwise know about – different areas of business,” said Geneva County Schools Superintendent Becky Birdsong. “It gives students a chance to be on a college campus and hear people from the business world speak to them like they’re adults. It really opens up the world for these kids.”

Students from Geneva County, Rehobeth, Dale County, Daleville, Ashford, Kinston, Cottonwood, Bethlehem, Northview and Dothan high schools participated, along with students from the Dothan Technology Center and Houston County Career Academy.