Local business leaders and members of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce were busy shaping our future as they helped students in our Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk (YEA! Polk).

On Tuesday night at class, Frank Motola and Stephen Allen, both of Brandastic, and Heidi Holzhauser, student at Polk State College, devoted time to meet with young entrepreneurs to help them develop branding and logos. On January 23, Jan Coachman of SendOutCards, and Chamber Champion, spoke to the student about her business and the importance of e-commerce.

In the meantime, behind the scenes, our business plan reviewers are aiding in the development of students’ business plans, and ultimately their pitch at the YEA! Shark Tank on April 4– thank you to Irma Cole, Trillium Antiques; Ken Farris, Central Florida SCORE and YEA! Pitch Instructor; Chef Marcos Fernandez, Nineteen61 and d’lucas; Curt Patterson of Patterson Publishing and The Lakelander; and Dr. Lyle Bowlin, Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership.

This year’s students range in age from 12 to 18 and represent several schools – All Saints Academy, Haines City High School, Lake Wales IB, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Mulberry High School, Polk State Gateway Collegiate High School, and Thomas Christian Academy (home-school).

Thank you to our Investor Sponsors that make this program possible:  Allen & Company of Florida, Inc., Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership, Publix Super Markets, Inc., Suncoast Credit Union, and SunTrust Bank.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(C) 3 offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures. Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today’s youth and tomorrow’s future leaders. YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. For more information, visityeausa.org.


Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce represents 1,400 member businesses in the Lakeland area and provides opportunities for networking, professional development and advocacy for companies of all sizes. Five-Star Accredited by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber upholds the following vision and mission statements: Vision Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce will be the premier catalyst for the advancement of Lakeland’s economic growth and enhancement of quality of life– creating Florida’s community of choice. Mission Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper.


About Author

Leon Aprile is a pseudonym for different freelance writers that submit articles to OPO.

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