Encouraging the Entrepreneurial Spirit: 2017 Chamber High School Business Challenge

Posted On On: March 28, 2017

by:  Larissa Bailey, Government Relations Manager

In recent years entrepreneurship has become a transformational 21st century trend, serving as a key driver for economic growth both domestically and abroad.  Entrepreneurship requires creativity and innovation, demands risk, and ultimately yields our business leaders of tomorrow.

Each year the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC’s High School Business Challenge encourages the entrepreneurial spirits of local high school students.  From generating written business proposals to pitching their plans to a panel of judges “Shark Tank style,” the competition provides youth in grades 9 through 12 with the opportunity to see the business planning process through from start to finish.

Seventeen teams from 5 different school districts are participating in this year’s competition.  High schools like Big Spring, Gettysburg Area, Hershey, and Middletown Area are challenge veterans, while Harrisburg is participating in the program for the first time.

Mr. Sean Burke, co-advisor at Middletown Area High School, believes the Chamber High School Business Challenge provides a great platform for students to showcase their entrepreneurial skills and to apply their classroom knowledge to work in a real-world environment.

“Middletown Area High School was looking for an opportunity for students with a future in business to showcase their skills, foster an original business idea, and test themselves against other students in the area,” shared Burke.  “When literature about the Challenge came across our desks, we jumped at the opportunity to get as many teams on board as possible.”

In addition to the academic support provided by the school advisors, the student teams are paired with professional business mentors who offer industry expertise and counsel on real-world scenarios and applications as the students complete their plans.  Barry Kindt, President of SECCO, Inc., is a two-time mentor to a team from Gettysburg Area High School.  Kindt supports the Chamber High School Challenge, in part, because of his love for mentoring.  “Few things are more exciting and energizing than that “light bulb” moment, when the student learns!” he explained.  “And few things are more rewarding than the appreciation the student shares – sometimes immediately and sometimes a couple years later when you hear from them that you made a difference in their life.”

The student teams competed in the first round of the competition on March 24 by submitting their written business plans for evaluation.  Judges will then review the proposals and determine the top four teams who will advance to the second and final round of competition.  On April 26, 2017, the finalists will pitch and defend their plans to a panel of judges who will then determine the ultimate Challenge champion.  Scholarship dollars will be awarded to each member of the first and second place teams; members of the third and fourth place teams also receive a small monetary prize.

How can you and/or your organization support this event?

Be a sponsor.  All sponsorship revenue goes toward the provision of scholarships for the teams that make it to the finals.  The more sponsorship dollars contributed, the greater the scholarships we will be able to provide to these remarkable students.

Cheer on the students.  Members of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC and the greater business community are encouraged to attend and cheer on the final four teams at the Chamber High School Business Challenge event on Thursday, April 28, 2016 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at Harrisburg University.  To register for this free event, visit www.harrisburgregionalchamber.org.

For more information on the Chamber High School Business Challenge, contact Larissa Bailey at lbailey@hbgrc.org.