Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Announces High School Business Plan Competition During Regional Youth Conference


Photo of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast is developing a new regional business plan competition for high school students.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 30, 2010 — A new regional business plan competition for high school students is being developed that will begin with the 2010-2011 school year, according to an announcement made by Dr. James Stapleton at the conclusion of the COUNTDOWN To Success, 2010 Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Conference at Southeast Missouri State University.

The announcement was made to an audience of about 500 students, teachers, faculty and sponsors from the southeast region who attended the youth entrepreneurship conference held today in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at the Southeast River Campus.

Stapleton, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and assistant professor of management at Southeast, described the goals and benefits of the competition.

 “We want to encourage young people in our region to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, to explore the creative process of new venture creation, and to consider self-employment as a career choice,” he said. “This competition will recognize students throughout the region who are creating innovative businesses and will provide them much needed seed capital to get those businesses started.”

Stapleton said the competition is one of several programs the CIE is sponsoring to try to increase the level of entrepreneurial activity in the region.

“According to an annual Kauffman Foundation study, Missouri ranked 49th in the United States in new business start-ups,” he said. “Small businesses are the job creation engine of our economy, so we offer a variety of education and training programs to assist individuals to become business founders.”

The competition will coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week activities in November. This weeklong series of events and activities has involved more than 2,000 students at Southeast in the past two years.

High school students attending the COUNTDOWN event enjoyed an inspirational keynote address by Delatorro McNeal, a nationally known youth entrepreneurship speaker and author of the book, The Rules of the Game: How to Write Your Own Ticket in College and Beyond.  His message was one of self-empowerment and dedication to achieve goals.

Students were treated to special performances by the step club of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and by the Southeast Showstoppers, a high energy student dance group.  A highlight of the event was a special screening of the documentary film “TEN9EIGHT – Shoot for the Moon,” an inspirational film following the lives of high school students participating in a national business plan competition. 

The event drew participation from 14 public and private high schools from across the southeast region. 

“We were very pleased with the turnout for this event,” said Sandra Cabot, who coordinated the event for the CIE. “This just shows the high level of interest in programs to enhance leadership skills and build awareness of the importance of  an entrepreneurial mindset,” she said. “We appreciate the support for this program provided by WIRED and the P20 Council, and we look forward to making this an annual event so that students from the southeast Missouri region can continue to be exposed to entrepreneurship as a possible career path.” 

The CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities, and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region.

Located at the Southeast Innovation Center, the CIE is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a vast array of academic and outreach programs and services including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training, and mentorship; business incubation; business training and development; and network building and community development.

For more information about the CIE and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, contact (573) 651-2929.