Young Entrepreneurs Program Thriving in Boca Raton
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This is the second in a series of posts on the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA). YEA is an after-school program that takes students through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of an academic year. This year, the Chamber partnered with YEA and local chambers of commerce to bring the program to 12 regions, including the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.
Beth Johnston, executive vice president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, shared her experience with the YEA program:
Q. Why was it important for your chamber to get involved with the YEA program?
A. The world revolves around small business and behind each small business is an entrepreneur. The program fits our mission as a business organization, our dedication to education through our Golden Bell Education Foundation, and our goal to cultivate future entrepreneurs.
Q. What has the response been like in your community?
A. Overwhelming. We already have 30 students on an application list for next year and we haven’t even begun promoting the next class. With the help of our media partners and the YEA organization, we are able to circulate information throughout the community.
Q. What do entrepreneurs mean to your chamber and your community?
A. Boca Raton is a college town with three universities (Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College, and Lynn University). Each university has some type of entrepreneurs program and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship. The YEA classes are held in a classroom at FAU. That in itself shows the great interest this city has in entrepreneurs—educating them and promoting their businesses. The chamber is filled with entrepreneurs and we also develop programming to help their businesses.
Q. Why is it important to you that young people receive entrepreneurial education?
A. Students of today have to decide whether they want to hold a job or be the entrepreneur who creates the jobs. The Boca Chamber, through YEA, is giving them the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and make that decision.
Q. What advice do you have for YEA! students as they begin the process of starting their own businesses?
A. Passion. You have to have the passion for your business opportunity and then the rest will fall into place. Ups and downs, sure, but in the end you will be happy with your decision.