Last updated: September 19. 2013 3:08PM - 1227 Views
Tonia F. Stephenson Contributing Columnist



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Have you heard about your YEA! program?


“The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a groundbreaking, year-long program that transforms high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs.” I took this statement from the YEA! website, because it perfectly states what this program does. I was fortunate last year to come to Laurinburg in time to meet the young people who signed up for YEA! and watch them during their 30 weeks of programming. To see what young professionals they were during their graduation and trade show was remarkable. It was an inspiration to see these young people, what ideas they have, and how well they can present themselves. I am honored to work for an organization that invests in our young people’s lives.


Karla Milholland was recently hired to the position of YEA! Program Manager and from her first day, she has worked hard to recruit students, volunteers, and financial supporters for this program. Our deadline for students to apply is Sept. 27 and if you know of a young person who comes up with ideas and who has an entrepreneurial spirit, I hope you will let them know about YEA! Near the end of the program, we have an Investor Panel night where the new business owners present their idea and business plan to a group of people who have invested money to help support these newly created companies. If you would like to invest in a young person to help them succeed in their endeavors, I ask you to call Karla at the chamber and let her know at what level you would like to help.


We need help! We need instructors for the classes. It is very rewarding. The class is 30 weeks long, but the instructor portions are broken up into three sections. Therefore, we need three instructors for the whole program, unless we find the perfect person who would want to do the entire program. YEA! USA provides all the materials on what to teach and cover, but we need someone with a passion to see young people succeed and who has a way of sharing information in a fun and exciting manner. The instructors are the ones who are most involved with the students and who really see the transformation most. For the first segment, the instructor is instrumental in bringing out the ideas the students have and helping mold those ideas into actual business plans. It is a commitment; however, the rewards are plentiful!


If you are interested in learning more about the YEA! program, I ask you to call the Chamber on Tuesday or Thursday mornings and ask for Karla. She would love to talk with you! You can also send an email to kmillholland@laurinburgchamber.com. Please consider what role you can play in transforming a high-school student into a young entrepreneur.


Tonia F. Stephenson serves as president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.

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