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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Staff Writer
The DECA club at Washington County High School recently held a contest for students who were interested in starting their own business or wanting to expand an existing business. After the score sheets were totaled up, the two winners of the contest were Katie Cambron and Palmer Grigsby. Each will receive a laptop computer, wireless printer, free coaching from the Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute and $500 to invest into their business.
“We had two winners and five other outstanding ideas,” said KECI member Hal B. Goode. “How exciting a Friday is it that we were able to come up with seven possible new businesses for Washington County? That tops off my week.”
Cambron was selected first for her idea to start a babysitting service. What attracted the judges to her idea was the possibility of employing others in the county and the potential to expand.
"I'm very excited. I think it will be a really fun experience," said Cambron, who plans to use the $500 prize to pay for CPR classes for herself and employees. "I'm going to have CPR training and Safe Sitter courses for myself as well as the people that will be working under me."
Cambron will use the laptop computer and printer to print out flyers and eventually start an Internet site where clients can schedule appointments online.
Grigsby came in a close second with his existing business of growing and selling organic vegetables locally. Judges saw the potential of Grigsby’s business to branch out into other areas, possibly selling items like relish and salsa.
"I'm really excited to win $500 and the other prizes," Grigsby said. "I'll be ready come May to start gardening. My main focus right now is produce from May through October. In the future, I'd love to do stuff in the winter like homemade relish and maybe some salsa."
Each entry was judged on 10 criteria using a 1-10 scale for a possible top score of 100. The list included executive summary, company mission statement, detailed description of the business, self-analysis, target market, sales and promotion, integration of technology, start-up costs, financial projections and how viable their business could be.
The other contestants were Jordan Settles (high-quality processed beef), Amanda Devine (tropical fish), Juan Guajoardo (paintball field), Jessica Lewis (regional horse show) and Jennifer Chesser (raising and selling cattle).
The judges thought all of the ideas were good and had a tough time pairing it down to the two winners. Goode, along with fellow KECI members Bud Blair and Jimmy Hatchett, emphasized that they would be willing to work with all of the contestants in getting their businesses off the ground.
"Some decisions were very easy as far as their business plans," said Blair. "Others were difficult because we had to look into the future and what they may provide. What sounds good now may not develop into a viable business two years down the road."
"It's up to the young people to follow through," Hatchett said. "We are there to help them, that's all. We can advise them but we can't tell them a thing to do."
"We had to look at what would work in a rural community," added Goode. "Being an entrepreneur, if you're going to make it work, you've got to work it. Now it's up to them. As coaches, we're there to do just that, we're going to coach them through the process."
Goode went on to say that the KECI is interested in working with anybody who wants to start a business in Washington County and hopes to continue the teen entreprenuership contest on an annual basis.