A pair of Petal High School students walked away with the top prizes in the Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) Statewide Business Plan Competition held May 9 at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Ten finalists from seven Mississippi high schools competed in two divisions: Entrepreneurship 1 (first year participants/high school juniors) and Entrepreneurship 2 (second-year participants/high school seniors). The presentations and judging took place at the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
Petal High’s Ellen Tichnell captured first place in Entrepreneurship 1 with her business plan “Petal Afterschool Program.” Tichnell’s functioning business actually began in the fall of 2010 and offers interim child care services during the school year for Petal High School staff and administration. Additional services provided to her clients at no extra charge include tutoring and extended stay flexibility in case parents have to remain late for after-school meetings and/or activities.
Petal High’s Nicolet Hopper took first place honors in Entrepreneurship 2 with her business plan “Simply Sunless: Custom Airbrush Tanning” gained considerable notice due to the amount of work and research that had been invested. In addition to her first-place award, Hopper also received the $500 “Making Money Now” award granted to one SEP student each year based on his or her proven ability to capitalize on profits by investing them into new ventures.
“This is our fourth year to offer the statewide competition,” said James B. Wilcox, director of the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education and coordinator of the Southern Entrepreneurship Program. “Each year the student presentations become more impressive and the number of functioning student businesses represented goes up. We are constantly informed by our competition judges who work in business financing that SEP students are more prepared and well researched than most of their clients.”
Second place in Entrepreneurship 1 went to Gulfport High’s Arielle Cox for her business plan “HairDo Headbands,” a fashion start-up currently designing decorative headbands for customers in the Gulfport area. Columbus High’s Evonda Hollis took third place for her proposed business “Bliss Deli-Café,” a new restaurant and coffee shop with an in-house baker.
Biloxi High’s Brandon Pace took second place in Entrepreneurship 2 for his business plan showcasing his successful venture BPace Productions, a video production company which started in the Biloxi area but has since expanded out of state. Heidelberg High’s RanDarius Cooley captured third place for his plan titled, “Tiffany’s ETC.”
For more information about the SEP and how high schools can become involved, contact Wilcox at 601.266.6055 or visit www.theSEP.org