Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

October 9, 2012

The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs opens in 2013

Business development theme of new summer program

ASHLAND — High school students interested in being their own bosses learned Tuesday about a new state program to nurture their entrepreneurial spirits so they can start businesses of their own after school.

The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs will hold its first-ever session in the summer of 2013 and two state officials talked about it with students enrolled in the Ashland Alliance’s Youth Leadership of Boyd and Greenup County program.

Patterned after the Governor’s Scholars and Governor’s School for the Arts programs, the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs will take students to the Georgetown College campus for three weeks for what they called an immersive experience developing a product idea and marketing it.

Entry into the program will be competitive and students who make the cut will finish the program ready to turn their own ideas into real products, and with a network of peers and experts they can call on during their careers, said Laurie Daugherty, associate vice president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

“You are going to come ready to roll up your sleeves and work as a team,” Daugherty said.

Students may apply as individuals or as a team and have to submit, among other things, a two-minute video that either pitches their product idea or details their interest in being part of a team. “We’re not looking for top grades but creative thinkers who will thrive in the environment,” she said. The best students for the program may well be the ones who sit in the back of the class and don’t call attention to themselves. “We want to uncover talent. We’re looking for a different kind of thinker.”

The program sounds like an attractive option for students with a special interest in entrepreneurship, said Joe Van Deren, a Russell High School junior who is considering a double college major in engineering and business.

“I’m just coming up with ideas out of the blue and what I’d like to know is how to follow through with them.”

 Fifty Kentucky high school students will be chosen for the program the summer before their senior year. If successful, the program may expand and bring in more students in following years.

Kentucky officials hope the program, which is funded by state and private sources, will strengthen young entrepreneurs to be who will then become business leaders in their home communities. That is important because most in-state college graduates remain in Kentucky, Daugherty said. “To stay competitive, we must teach the skills of entrepreneurship early so they can apply them.”

Nurturing future entrepreneurs is essential to growing Kentucky’s economy, because the era of cradle-to-grave jobs in manufacturing is over, said Mick Fosson, director of Ashland’s Kentucky Innovation Network center, formerly the Innovation and Commercialization Center.

His center is one in a network of 13 across the state that assist business startups.

“We’ve got to change the culture from getting out of school and going to work to getting out of school and starting a business,” Fosson said.

The 40 students at the presentation were participants in the Ashland Alliance’s Youth Leadership of Boyd and Greenup County, a year-long program similar to Leadership Tri-State.

Students attend monthly sessions to familiarize themselves with business, non-profit organizations, arts, state government and higher education, said Missy McCalvin, who coordinates the program.

It includes students from all six public high schools in the two counties plus Rose Hill Christian School.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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