According to the recent Ewing Marion Kauffmann Foundation, Index of Entrepreneurship Activity, 543,000 new businesses are created each month, yet very few of these businesses are started by young entrepreneurs aged 20-24 despite the high rate of unemployment for this group – 14.2% in January 2013.
Two area organizations are trying to buck this trend by cultivating the concept of entrepreneurship amongst high school juniors and seniors as well as community college students. Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) and Maryland Capital Enterprises (MCE) are hosting the second annual Student Business Plan Competition on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The deadline for registration is Friday, March 22, at 5 p.m. For eligibility, rules, and submission information, visit www.ShoreBizPlan.com or call (410) 770-9330.
The competition is designed to motivate students to assess their own skill sets and characteristics in relation to areas of existing personal interest or knowledge in which they could successfully make a living and possibly create jobs for themselves and others on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“As is the case for all professions, prospects need to be able to see themselves as entrepreneurs,” says Mike Thielke, ESEC executive director. “Young people sometimes feel like they do not have the ability, experience or financial resources to start their own businesses. By engaging them in a simplified business plan process we hope to plant the seeds for future entrepreneurship,” he adds.
Eligible participants from area public and private high schools and community colleges must be residents Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Mid-Shore County Region (Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot) or Lower Shore County Region (Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester). Community college participants must be part-time or full-time students at Chesapeake or Wor-Wic community college.
Open to individuals or teams, the competition seeks unique, innovative, and scalable business plans that could be fundable for any idea of a commercial endeavor. All submissions must be the original work of those making the submission and must describe a new or early-stage company.
Semi-final judging will take place by district: Chesapeake College and Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot county students and Wor-Wic Community College and Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester county students. Each district will hold its own Semi-Final Round consisting of five finalists from which three winners will be selected. All winners from each district advance to an Eastern Shore final judging.
Semi-Final cash prizes are: First Place – $500; Second Place – $250; and Third Place – $100. Finalist cash prizes are: First Place – $1,000; Second Place – $500; and Third Place – $250.
Founded in 2006, the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center works to develop and enhance an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. ESEC provides training; services and programs to help business owners and entrepreneurs succeed by creating greater access to capital, and offering programs that develop entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. Included are ShoreVenture, a comprehensive 10-week entrepreneur-training program, annual business plan and student plan competitions, and an annual entrepreneur conference.
In 2012, ESEC launched “hotDesks,” providing co-working spaces for independent professionals. The first location opened in Salisbury with a second location to be announced on the Eastern Shore. For more information on the business plan competition or ESEC, call (410) 770-9330 or visit ventureahead.org.