Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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February 21, 2013

Young mavericks mean business

Westport — Four South Decatur high school students have won a total of $1,000 as part of the local Maverick Challenge, which challenges students to create a detailed business plan.

Paje Smiley, Lexie Armand and Shelby Sparkman won $500 to split between them for their business plan for “Grandma Lexie’s Herbtastic Popsicles,” and Morgan Tomson won $500 for her business plan for “Tomson’s Recipient Herd,” which outlines plans for a surrogate mother program for cattle.

EcO15 (Economic Opportunities through Education 2015) was started by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. in 2007, which provides grants to southern Indiana community foundations which fund educational programs related to manufacturing, tourism and healthcare. As part of Eco15, southeastern community foundations started the Maverick challenge.

On Saturday, March 2 in Columbus, the four South Decatur winners’ projects will be judged against several contestants from nearby counties, according to Main Street Greensburg executive director Bryan Robbins, who said the winners will have the opportunity to win several thousand dollars.

“These kids put a lot of time and work into their projects,” said Decatur County Community Foundation director, Deb Locke. “This is something you could take to a bank or investor to start a business.”

Locke said the Community Foundation’s goal with the Maverick Challenge is to promote the education needed for changing skill sets with evolving technology in fields such as robotics, math and science. The education is not just aimed at high school kids, said Locke, but adults who are returning to school, looking to get a GED, or those who have been displaced in work.

Each team was required to create a business plan explaining the marketing, and financial figures of their potential entrepreneurship, as well as to try to develop a unique business which could actually be started in the community.

Robbins mentioned that EcO15 received support from several local and corporate businesses, “I’d like to give a special thanks to the (Greensburg) Learning Center,” said Robbins, who praised everyone involved for the hard work put into the projects.

Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004

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