Napa Valley College responds to the demand of educating the next generation of entrepreneurs. The college and businesses and educators come together to support Napa County youth and celebrate entrepreneurship.

The seventh annual Youth Entrepreneurship (YEP) Business Plan Competition at the college is fast approaching. Parents, families and the public are invited to be inspired and attend the competition Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Napa Valley College Library Community Room.

The top teams will present their PowerPoint business plans to a panel of judges and winners will be announced at the end of the competition. Finalists will receive cash awards from our business sponsors: Petaluma Poultry, Capital Access Group, and Rabobank. First prize in the college category is $1,000 cash, and first prize in the high school division is $500 cash.

“Developing a business plan is complex, requiring both creativity and mathematical reality. Presenting to a roomful of people is stressful, too. It’s wonderful to see our students rise to the occasion in taking on this very adult assignment,” said Barbara Nemko, superintendent, Napa County Office of Education and a judge last year.

Meanwhile, Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Advisors have been working with students in the classroom for six weeks. More than 80 high school students will participate from Vintage, New Technology, Napa, St. Helena and Casa Grande high schools. Students from Napa Valley College business classes are also competing.

“Every year, I am inspired and impressed with our tech- savvy youth,” said Carolynne Gamble, who works as business adviser with the Small Business Development Center at Napa Valley College. “These young entrepreneurs are innovative and their business plans are highly strategic. This YEP (Youth Entrepreneur Program) program is a stepping stone to success.”

Through the classroom mentoring, young entrepreneurs learn market research, strategic planning, supply and demand, and financial statements. They explore marketing strategies, social media and how to break into new markets. Students learn how to run their own business, and how to identify and resolve potential obstacles. Planning a business also reinforces math, communication, history, art and computer skills.

The Business Plan Competition challenges youth to explore entrepreneurship as a career, but it also helps build a business community from within. Students find business opportunities within their own communities.

“The competition was the highlight of my semester,” said NVC student Jose Carrasco who placed fifth last year in the college division on his plan to open a small Hispanic restaurant. “This competition was the first step that will help carry a plan on paper into a tangible and successful business.”.

The deadline for entries for business plans is Dec. 4. Six finalists from each category will present their plans on Dec. 13. For more information about the YEP and the Business Plan Competition, go to or contact NVC Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center at 256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Centers. Reach her at 256-7253 or


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