Minority Youth and Business Program students face 'Shark Tank'

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June 12, 2012

Georgia College’s annual Minority Youth and Business Program mirrors ABC’s popular reality show, “Shark Tank,” where America’s top investors give up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to start profitable businesses.

“Our students go beyond developing Local home health care owners Josh and Caleb Flournoy give business advice to Minority Youth and Business Program students. Local home health care owners Josh and Caleb Flournoy give business advice to Minority Youth and Business Program students.business plans,” said Emmanuel Little, program director for the program. “Students learn entrepreneurial skills from campus and local community members and experience college life by staying on our campus.”

This year’s 21 students from Baldwin, Bibb, Jones, Hancock, Gwinnett and Wilkinson have only a week to develop and present business plans to community business owners acting as investors.

The business deal: Convince the investors to buy into their proposed products or businesses to gain startup support.

“My college adviser told me about the program,” said Nga Chung, 16, of Meadowcreek High School in Norcross. “I’m glad I came because I’m getting so many questions answered about college life and becoming a successful business leader.”

The Minority Youth and Business Program is one of only two such programs in Georgia designed to encourage minority high school students to attend college and enter the business world as successful entrepreneurs.

The program is a project of the university's J. Whitney Bunting College of Business and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity’s Cultural Center.

The high school students learn how to start a business, finance it and keep track of expenses. Students work in groups to develop business plans, a process that involves college-level skills.

“As soon as students meet each other, they waste no time developing their concepts and proposals,” Little said.

Students meet and shadow local business owners to gain the tools needed to create usable business plans. The group also networks with university faculty, staff and students to learn about campus life.

This year’s group talked with local home health care owners Joshua and Caleb Flournoy of Primecare Home Care Services, toured radio station Z97.7 and visited full-service day spa and salon Serenity Wellness Spa.

“Programs like this one help broaden our youth’s worldview so they can see what’s outside their own communities,” said Javier Francisco, Georgia College associate director of enrollment management. “I help them understand the college selection and admissions process in order for them to find the perfect fit in a university. I hope they see themselves as part of this campus in the future.”

A panel of business owners and university faculty and students will critique the students’ proposals at the end of the week and offer feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their plans.

“This program is right up my alley,” said Darrion Ammons, 17, of Jones County High School. “Georgia College is near my hometown. I also plan to become a mortician one day. I’m going to need this business plan when I start my business after college.”

For more information about this program, contact Emmanuel Little at emmanuel.little@gcsu.edu or 478-445-8155.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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