D-B business students taking part in Global Entrepreneurship Week

Rick Wagner • Nov 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM


KINGSPORT — A team of Dobyns-Bennett High School senior business students is participating in an international entrepreneurship week.

Through a survey they conducted of 300 fellow students, a presentation of survey results and participation in the forthcoming Kingsport Office of Small Business Entrepreneurship Small Business Night School, the five students are integrating real-world experience into their classroom studies.

The students, through the KOSBE program of the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, are joining hundreds of partners across Tennessee and the world to celebrate the first Global Entrepreneurship Week, Nov. 17-23.

The goal of the week is to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity, said Aundrea Wilcox, executive director of KOSBE.

More than 75 countries are participating including Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and the United States.

KOSBE has partnered with the five, chosen by their teacher, to do a survey of high school students' perspectives on entrepreneurship.

The D-B project team members are Sarah Taylor, 17, daughter of Scott and Trisha Taylor; Kelley Combs, 18, daughter of Cathy and Ed Combs; Dean Rice, 17, son of Terri and Frank Rice; Courtney Kendrick, 18, daughter of Lisa Kendrick; and Drew Hammonds, 18, son of Shannon and Lisa Hammonds.

“We go to the other classrooms and ask the teachers if they will allow their students to take the survey,” Hammonds said.

The survey results — including about half seniors — will reveal opinions, questions, challenges and plans that high school students have in relation to starting a business.

Results of the survey will be shared by the project team with attendees of the monthly Kingsport Chamber Fourth Friday Breakfast Meeting, to be held on the third Friday of the month, Nov. 21, because of the holidays. Results also will go to the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Business Enterprise Resource Office and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition, the five students will facilitate a session and show a video at the Young Entrepreneurs program during the second and final night of the KOSBE Night School, 5:30 to 9 p.m. this Thursday at the chamber, 151 E. Main St.

Founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the United States and Make Your Mark in the United Kingdom, the week is a combination and expansion of two successful initiatives: the debut of Entrepreneurship Week USA in 2007 and the inspiration behind it, Enterprise Week in the UK, which was kicked off in 2004 by now-Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“It is truly exciting to see our students take a leadership role in entrepreneurial activities,” said Dean Blevins, director of career and technical education for Kingsport City Schools. “We are committed to equipping our young people with an enterprising spirit and a global mind-set which are required to be successful in a global society.”

Blevins said such outside activities are encouraged in all technical classes — formerly called vocational classes — so students can get a real-world perspective.

Among the five team members, Kendrick said she plans to pursue a master’s of business administration, while Hammonds plans to be in the medical field, Combs is undecided, Rice plans to become a doctor of osteopathy, and Taylor foresees a career in education.

Global Entrepreneurship Week also will feature two global activities: Unleash It! and SpeedNetwork the Globe.

Unleash It! will be an online community that allows entrepreneurs to post challenges and link them to enterprising problem solvers. SpeedNetwork the Globe will offer face-to-face networking sessions around the world that enable young people to sharpen their networking skills and talk with local entrepreneurs and leaders.

Wilcox is an area blogger on the Global Entrepreneurship Week Tennessee Web page.

Claire Arbaugh, teacher of the 28-student Business Principles class, has spent most of the term addressing what goes into starting and operating a business, and the culmination is the writing of a business plan.

The teacher said Wilcox approached her to participate in the entrepreneurship week. In the past, KOSBE has sent speakers to the class, including winners of KOSBE’s Small Business Start-up Contest, and Wilcox said she hopes to partner with the class during next year’s entrepreneurship week.

Team members said the survey results — still being compiled — found interest among D-B students in starting their own business.

That reflects results of a recent Harris Poll survey. Funded by the Kauffman Foundation, that survey found that 63 percent of the 8- to 21-year-olds agreed that if they work hard, they have the ability successfully to start their own business.

Entrepreneurship Week/USA is sponsored nationally by the Kauffman Foundation and the Acton Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence; sponsored globally by NYSE Euronext, IBM and Ernst & Young; and supported by JA Worldwide, Endeavor, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, DECA, YPO-WPO and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

For more information visit www.unleashingideas.org or www.kosbe.org or call KOSBE at 392-8811.

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