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Young Entrepreneurs Academy gets local students in business

Posted: Thursday, August 24, 2017 | Views: 3272

Young Entrepreneurs Academy gets local students in business

From the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce

Hammond, LA (Thursday, August 24, 2017) The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) is coming to Tangipahoa Parish and will walk 20-25 students in grades 6-12 through the process of creating a business from idea, to design, to funding, to launch.

Through a partnership with the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Southeastern Louisiana University, Northshore Community Foundation and Shelby P. LaSalle Jr. Professional Project Services, students across Tangipahoa Parish have the chance to participate in the 26-week program. Overseen by YEA Program Manager Andrea Oser, students will meet every Tuesday for three hours at Southeastern Louisiana University. Participating students can be from public, private, parochial, charter or homeschool backgrounds.

Applications are being accepted now through Friday, September 15. Contact the Greater Hammond Chamber at 985-345-4457 or visit for more information and/or a copy of the application.

Begun in Rochester, New York, in 2004, the extremely successful Young Entrepreneurs Academy boasts only 110 locations across 39 states. Shelby LaSalle first introduced the YEA program to St. Tammany Parish two years ago. With about 30 business volunteers and $60,000 of donated funding, the Academy takes 20-25 students each year and helps them learn how to be an entrepreneur.

“It’s kind of like taking junior high and high school students and, in a short period of time, creating confident entrepreneurs. And it’s amazing to see the transformation,” LaSalle said. “I don’t know who gets more out of the classes, me or the kids.”

The program has three phases, which involve classroom time with three instructors and 10-15 guest speakers, field trips to three or four businesses and a mentoring process where individual students or groups design a business. During the design phase, students work with mentors to create business plans and prepare presentations to give to an investor panel. The investor panel has a dedicated sum they can use to invest in the best businesses presented.

The panel will also choose one of the businesses to send on to a regional competition in Rochester. If the student, or students, place there, they then move up to the national competition in Washington D.C., LaSalle said. Students who compete well at the national level can receive in-kind donations, other investors and full college scholarships.

“The Greater Hammond Chamber is all about growing business and we know that ideas and innovation are part of the reason that our business leaders are successful. We also know that there are a lot of young people right here in Tangipahoa Parish who have the entrepreneurial spirit that might make them the next big thing,” Chamber President and CEO Melissa Bordelon said. “And just as our athletes need great coaches, we know that these students need a little help to make their business dreams a reality.”

Carla Mouton, Program and Donor Services with Northshore Community Foundation, has been the program manager in St. Tammany for the last two years. She said she enjoys watching students with no idea of what to create, take their passions, develop them into ideas and pitch them to investors.

“What I have witnessed is insecure, shy students can develop so quickly into confident, polished business professionals,” she said. “It’s quite amazing to see them come from being unsure of their abilities to leaving the investor panel knowing they gave the best presentation they could. It’s very powerful.”

Bill Joubert, Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University, has worked with the YEA and will be facilitating the first phase of the program. Because the YEA is focused on promoting education and growing business, Joubert said it is a perfect fit for both the SBDC and the Chamber.

“The program is a natural fit for our small business development center and our university, because as a small business development center, we are encouraged to do youth entrepreneurship assistance,” Joubert said. “For the Greater Hammond Chamber to embrace this program is proof positive that it is a forward-looking Chamber. Some of these kids are going to be business leaders one day, and for the Chamber to be a part of that process is really forward thinking.”

Call the Greater Hammond Chamber at 985-345-4457 to learn more about the program and how you can be involved.