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“YEA!” Program Now Led by Wesleyan’s Eastern North Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship

The local Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) that is motivating middle and high school students to propose ideas for new businesses is now under the leadership of North Carolina Wesleyan College. The program had previously been managed by the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce.

Wesleyan President Jim Gray said, “This innovative program fits well under the guidance of the college’s Eastern North Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship. The college established the Center last year as part of the expansion of our business administration program.  YEA! also ties well into Wesleyan’s efforts to strengthen small business development in Eastern North Carolina.”

Professor David Walker, director of the Eastern North Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship, is equally excited to be offering the program. Walker stated, “The College will continue to work closely with the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce as well as current and potential investors to help students involved in the YEA! program.”

Classes already are being held in the Gateway Technology Center on the Wesleyan campus. The year-long classes transform students into real, confident entrepreneurs. Students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, present their ideas to a panel of investors, and can actually run their own legally formed companies and social movements.

To further encourage young entrepreneurs, Wesleyan is participating in a national scholarship competition. Each year, a national investor panel will select the most promising students from all YEA! sites across the country. Those students will present their entrepreneurial ideas in the Saunders Scholars National Scholarship Competition. The top three students selected will receive scholarships from their choice of participating colleges.  NC Wesleyan will offer a $10,000-per-year scholarship for four years to each of the national finishers if they choose to attend Wesleyan.

The YEA! program, founded at the University of Rochester in 2004, continues to grow throughout the nation with support from the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. YEA! is now established in 168 communities across the nation. The program at Wesleyan is only the third of its kind in North Carolina.

“Some have described the current generation of college students as a group that does not want ‘to work for the man,’” said Gray. “I believe today’s young people have a self-reliant, independent bent. They’re more inclined to want to be ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job takers.’ I believe that Wesleyan’s Eastern NC Center for Business & Entrepreneurship is a way for our area to tap into this kind of thinking. I look forward to seeing the college and our local Chamber of Commerce continue to work together with young people in the YEA! program to improve our area for everyone.”

For further information about YEA!, contact Deborah Drye, Gateway Technology Center manager, at 252-977-6226.