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Young Local Entrepreneurs Compete For Grant Money

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Young high school entrepreneurs competed at the Rivers Club to win seed capital for their start-up businesses using Power Point presentations to convince the judges that their business plan was the best.

"We believe that it inspires them to think differently about themselves, reframe how they see themselves," says Entrepreneuring Youth President Jerry Cozewith. "And get ready for the kinds of jobs, whether or not they own the company, get ready for the kinds of jobs that are growing our region."

While some young people handed out business cards to the judges, one entrepreneur handed out balloon flowers.

"This is something that I recently started working on, this basket," says 9th grade competitor Amber Liggett from Franklin Center, "And I am just adding new things, everything I think of."

Liggett makes balloon animals for parties. She says it's not hard to be a businesswoman.

"If you love what you do, then it should be easy and fun, nothing too difficult," she said.

Finalists include both middle and high school students. Joey Pahula started a video editing business.

"My business is called Dramatic Effect," says 12th grader Pahula. "I come to your event, I record your event, I put it on a DVD, I can put pictures on it. Give it to you and your family to last a lifetime."

Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman, one of the judges, spoke for many.

"Once we have young people thinking about the future, thinking about how being an entrepreneur is as natural as thinking of being a rapper, thinking about being a ballplayer, or anything else," he says. "If we can get kids into that mindset, we have moved the world."

The winners will be announced Thursday night. First prize is a $2,000 grant to start up his or her business, but everyone's a winner. The runner-ups get $1,000 as well.

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