Clovis Chamber Accepting Young Entrepreneurs Academy Applications

Oct 17, 2013 No Comments by

CLOVIS – High school students in the Fresno/Clovis area are signing up for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Willow International Community College.

Students enrolled in the seven-and-a-half month course will participate in three 10-week sessions.  The first will focus on brainstorming, the second forming a business plan, and the third consists of them actually launching their business.  Instructors in the course are local business leaders.  Bill Syvertsen from the Tutoring Club of Clovis, Rod Geist with Central Valley Community Bank, and Rick Snow with Snowflake Designs in Clovis will be the instructors during the duration of the program.  Their job will be to challenge the students’ ideas, and help guide them on their way to becoming real-life entrepreneurs.

“The criteria for the students is a passion and a desire to put in the extra work to become entrepreneurs,” said Fran Blackney, business advocate with the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.

The course also involves guest speakers from various sectors of business, including an attorney and a tax accountant.  There will also be a media meet-and-greet, as well as trips to an advertising agency, a video company and the Save Mart Center, where students will see the inner workings of a big company.  By April the students’ business plans will be formed, and they will go before an investor panel to pitch their business idea, much like the TV show “Shark Tank.”

“These kids have to sell them their business plan, and the investors will divvy up the money to their real businesses,” Blackney said.

One local student will be chosen to fly to New York, along with a parent, all expenses paid, to compete with 80 other winners from across the nation.  Money and college scholarships will be on the line during the competition, sponsored by the Saunders Foundation in New York.

Blackney said the Clovis Chamber of Commerce was recommended to be the first chamber to be recommended to present the program in California by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, even though the Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s has already begun.

“That’s a big deal for us, that the United States Chamber of Commerce knows us,” Blackney said.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy began at the University of Rochester in New York in 2004.  Since then, it has graduated more than 900 students, who have formed more than 550 businesses and social movements.  All of them have finished high school on time, and 99 percent of them enroll in college with the class experience on their applications.

The classes meet at Willow International Community College at from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday beginning Nov. 4.  Tuition is $395, and partial scholarships are offered based on financial need.  For more information, contact Fran Blackney with the Clovis Chamber of Commerce at (559) 299-7363 or

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About the author

James Olinger is a native of the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from West Hills College in Coalinga, California in 2000 with an associate's degree in liberal arts. He joined Business Street in 2004 as a staff writer, and became the associate editor in 2007. He maintains that position today, writing for Business Street Online in a variety of topics.
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