The 8th annual Youth Entrepreneurship Business Plan (YEP) competition at Napa Valley College is fast approaching. Parents, families and the public are invited to be inspired and attend the Competition to be held on Saturday, Dec. 12.

The top teams will present their business plans to a panel of judges, and winners will be announced at the end of the competition. Finalists receive more than $5,000 in cash awards. First prize is $1,500 for the college category and $1,000 for the high school category, with awards for second, third, fourth and fifth places.

“The business plan competition is an exciting chance for students to apply a variety of skills to a real project. It uses creativity, communication, math, writing, technology, and ties them to an interest the student has. It’s fun to hear about the potential businesses students dream about starting. It’s a great program that I hope to judge every year,” said Napa County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Nemko, who served as a judge for the high school competition.

Meanwhile, advisers from the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) have begun to work with students in the classroom. More than 100 high school students from Napa and Sonoma County will participate. High schools include Vintage, New Technology, Napa, St. Helena, Calistoga, Windsor, Petaluma and Casa Grande. Students from Napa Valley College business classes are also competing.

“Educating our youth about entrepreneurship is vital to the success of the area,” says Cathy Balach, an SBDC business adviser and coordinator of this year’s competition. “YEP’s mission is to provide an exciting opportunity to our young people and give them the opportunity to dip their toes in the world of entrepreneurship – which will foster success in their future business ventures and careers.”

Through classroom mentoring, young entrepreneurs learn market research, strategic planning, supply and demand, and financial statements. They explore marketing strategies, social media and how to enter 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, history, communication, 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.

Casa Grande High School student Claudia Revilla won first place in the high school division in 2014 for Crescent, a business featuring homemade Mexican empanadas.

“I’ve learned that even with so much stress on your shoulders you should always find a place to be at peace, be ambitious, and don’t let yourself give up because you will be surprised at what will happen,” Revilla said.

The deadline for entry is Thursday, Dec. 3. Five finalists from each category will present their plans on Dec. 12. For more information about the Napa Valley College Youth Entrepreneur Program and the Business Plan Competition visit nvcyep.com or contact the Napa-Sonoma SBDC at (707) 256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or mcervantes@napavalley.edu.

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