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WVU B&E, state create high school business plan competition

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The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics announced Feb. 27 that it has partnered with the state Department of Education to create the West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition.

Funding for the high school competition will come from a $3 million gift from the BrickStreet Foundation to B&E that was announced on Feb. 26.

"We are so happy to announce a five-year agreement with the West Virginia Department of Education creating the West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition," said Jose "Zito" Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean.

"The competition will be open to 157 West Virginia high schools and 37,000 high school juniors and seniors," Sartarelli said. "It will provide increased opportunities to encourage and bolster the entrepreneurial spirit, as well as access for younger audiences to entrepreneurial thought and education."

The college also has committed a $10,000 scholarship to the winning team of up to four students if they choose to attend B&E. All four-year colleges and universities in West Virginia will be challenged by B&E to offer that same prize, allowing the winning team to choose from among participating schools.

"West Virginia is an entrepreneurial state and we, in education, need to create more opportunities for students to acquire the skill sets needed to be an entrepreneur," said Kathy D'Antoni, West Virginia assistant state superintendent of schools.

"As more students think deeply about the role entrepreneurship could play in their lives and they decide to pursue those dreams, the culture and economy of West Virginia will thrive," D'Antoni said.

The Department of Education has spent more than a year building a K-12 entrepreneurship strategy, according to Gene Coulson, executive director of the department's Office of Career and Technical Innovation.

"With much input from West Virginia entrepreneurs and educators, we have built and implemented entrepreneurial activities in schools at every level, with more to come," Coulson said. "The West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition will be the capstone showcase for those students who have identified entrepreneurship as a possible career pathway."

The competition represents an opportunity for all of West Virginia, in Sartarelli's mind.

"This is a golden opportunity for all of us to help younger students with their entrepreneurial interests," he said. "By providing this avenue to high school students, we are building the foundation for an environment of new technologies, new companies and new jobs in our state."

B&E and state education officials said they hope to launch the program for the 2013-14 school year.

For more information on the West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition or the WVU College of Business and Economics, visit www.be.wvu.edu.