Danny Stone, manager of Economic Development from Snapping Shoals EMC, visited the Newton College & Career Academy this week to learn about a handful of businesses that some students in the Entrepreneurial Business Incubator program created this year. He is pictured with senior Mathias Fobi, who expanded a business he has with his brother Simoni, a sophomore, and their two older brothers that creates logos and T-shirt designs. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON -- A handful of students are getting to develop and run their own businesses this year and get class credit for it, too.
This year, the Newton College & Career Academy established an Entrepreneurial Business Incubator program for students to create their own company.
NCCA developed a business center for students to meet in weekly and develop their own tools.
"It's part of our mission here," said James Woodard, CEO of the Academy. "You hear so much about entrepreneurship and the importance of small business development. Typically, students don't have the infrastructure to have a small business."
He said the center is designed for students to start up their own business and meet with a mentor. This semester, students have worked alongside instructor Debra Lary and Kendra Mayfield of Mayfield Hardware Co. to create a company business plan, learn about marketing and distribution and other aspects of running a business.
"These guys are getting started on their own," Woodard said.
The instructors taught students about running a business and company core values and visions.
"We started with defining entrepreneurship and leadership, then discussed developing core values and vision," Mayfield said. "We have also discussed operations, finance, marketing, Human Resources, management, analytics and planning."
In the business center, students, who get work-based learning and youth apprenticeship class credit for being in the program, have access to office space, copiers, printers, fax machines, laptop computers, scanners, printing services and other services needed to start up their businesses.
"Since each of them have very different businesses models and products, we focus on the mechanisms that make business work," Mayfield said. "I know these students have a good understanding of the complexity of starting, running and growing a small business."
This week, students held a showcase at the Academy, where fellow students, area businesses leaders and school system employees were able to learn more about their businesses.
Eight students running seven businesses showcased their work so far and sought future customers -- brothers Simoni and Mathias Fobi continued their family business aspirations with 4B Creations, which designs logos and T-shirts; Victoria Yashin expanded her business aspirations with Victory Event Planning, which plans parties and baking; Haley Kneece with Pampered Pet Care 101 as a pet-sitting business; Destiny McFadden with Tasty Pastries etc., which provides baked goods for events; Alisha Torres created Mothering Our Daughters as a nonprofit organization; Allison Carpenter created Sitters "R" Us for a babysitting business; and Conner Haler created Pixel Perfect Productions, which handles video productions and graphic and web design.
"This class has helped me jumpstart an idea I had and ignite it," Haler said. "Now we have the image -- it's getting the word out."
Many of the students said they created businesses based on earlier practice or passions they had and wanted to expand on that. Some of the students said they wanted to continue the business as a side to their main career aspiration or expand on it in the future if possible.
"My hope is that the Entrepreneurial Business Incubator can help them grow their businesses and that they will be able to sustain them even after graduation," Lary said.
The students will continue to expand their businesses next semester and, for the younger students, next school year at NCCA, if they choose. Next semester, Mayfield said she will help students create a non-profit Junior Chamber of Commerce program.
In the future, the program plans to open up to more interested students. Woodard said that students in all pathways of the Academy could participate since entrepreneurship exists in all types of businesses.