Program to help guide teen-age entrepreneurs

A Young Entrepreneurs Academy to guide middle- and high school students through launching their own businesses or social movements during an academic year was announced Wednesday by Mohawk Valley Community College and business organizations.

Through the YEA! program, students will meet with local business leaders, generate ideas, pitch plans to investors, and launch "their own real, legal, profitable businesses," according to an MVCC announcement. By the end of the class, students own and operate functioning businesses that may be continued.

Several sponsors have pledged to support YEA! at MVCC with multi-year financial commitments, including Mohawk Ltd., Beebe Construction Services, First Source Federal Credit Union, and the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce. At least five scholarships will be available to YEA! students, and the MVCC Foundation is seeking additional investment to provide scholarships.

The program, which requires a 9-month commitment from students, begins in November and runs through June with classes at MVCC’s Utica campus. Business mentors, graphic designers, and local entrepreneurs support students throughout the program, said MVCC.

"This unique and challenging experience will inspire the students who participate and make the Mohawk Valley a more favorable environment for all kinds of entrepreneurs and employers," MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner said. Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pamela Matt said "The experience is something students will be able to apply to whatever field they choose to enter...giving them the necessary skills to become future leaders of industry."

YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester with support from The Kauffman Foundation. Gayle Jagel, academy CED and founder, said "We are excited about the expansion and specifically chose Mohawk Valley Community College because of its reputation for academic excellence."

Call MVCC at 792-5300 or the academy at 585-272-3535.