A new way for young entrepreneurs to get their foot in the door of owning their own business will be presenting itself at the Mercer County Fair.

Keith Circle, executive assistant for the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, said Monday, "The Jr. Boss Competition is an opportunity for young entrepreneurs ages 12-19 to present their original ideas before a panel of judges which includes Anthony Wedo, CEO of Ovation Brands, along with community business leaders and academic advisors."

The event, sponsored by Ryan 's Family Buffet of Princeton and Bluefield, Va., will award the first-place winner $1,000 in seed money or for a college scholarship and is the brainchild of Wedo.

The event will be held at the Mercer County Fair and will serve as the launch for the nationwide program.

"All contestants will be accepted into Anthony Wedo 's Jr. Boss Entrepreneurship Academy, where they will receive mentorship and valuable resources about their business ideas throughout the year," Circle said.

“In business as in life, there are set backs. I want all of these young people to realize that when you get knocked down, or in this case, not selected as the one winner, you can still have a killer idea that may just need a little refinement,” Wedo said. “We want these kids to walk away from the program hungry for the chance to make something and confident enough in themselves to realize that when life throws you a setback, you dust yourself off and try again.”

Candidates will be required to present their idea for a product or service in front of a panel of judges — Wedo, Keith Circle, Vice President of the Mercer County Fair and Gene Buckner, county commissioner. Candidates will have 10 minutes to walk the panel through their idea and to answer questions. Contestants are encouraged to bring in visuals as appropriate. Each judge will score contestants based on presentation, viability of a business idea, creativity and uniqueness.

In addition, all contestants will receive a certificate for a free meal at Ryan's in Princeton, Bluefield, Va., or Beckley.

To enter the competition, pick up an application at the Princeton, Bluefield, Va., or Beckley Ryan's locations or by e-mail at info@inklinkmarketing.com.

Sample business plan templates and how-to guides have been created for these budding entrepreneurs to help in the creation of their idea and presentation. All required documents along with a business template which summarizes the idea must be e-mailed to info@inklinkmarketing.com by 5 p.m. Monday, July 28 by 5 p.m.

The event will be held Aug. 1, 5-7 p.m. at PikeView High School as a part of the Mercer County Fair.

— Contact Jeff Harvey at delimartman@yahoo.com or jharvey1@frontiernet.net.


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