JONESBORO – The annual Small Business Leadership Conference and Competition will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Reng Student Union on the campus of Arkansas State University. “We started this in 2009 with around 15-20 students attending from two schools. This year we are expecting 258 students attending from 16 schools in northeast Arkansas,” said Dr. Philip Tew, associate professor of finance and director of Scarlet to Black Financial Literacy Program.
He said this conference is vital to give students an early opportunity to think about their future plans, “These students are learning how to think entrepreneurially at an early age, which can help them later in life to start their own business and be able to improve their futures. It also gets students at a young age on a college campus interacting with college students. The young people can start early at seeing themselves going to college even if none of their family members have had that opportunity.”
The event will get started with two workshops: junk to market and the trade game. “In junk to market, the students will have a hands-on approach to improve their communication, team, leadership and critical thinking skills by receiving a bag of random items, and having 20 minutes to create a product, then get up and present their product to the crowd. For the trade game, the students learn the benefits of trade firsthand, by being able to trade items they receive to others in the room so that both parties benefit,” said Tew.
In addition to the workshops, the main event is the competition. “For the competition, the students are competing in four different categories: written business plan, commercial, elevator pitch and print marketing materials,” said Tew. The written business plan, commercial and marketing materials will be judged by a group of undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with the A-State Future Business Leaders of America Collegiate Chapter. A group of undergraduate and graduate students will choose the top eight elevator pitch entries. “Those top eight will then present live at the conference to judges consisting of faculty members from the Neil Griffin College of Business and A-State FBLA-Collegiate Chapter Officers,” said Tew.
Winners will receive medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. There will be individual and team winners. The overall first place team will split $250 from the Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy. Teachers interested in bringing students to participate in the future can reach out to Tew at firstname.lastname@example.org. He said they plan to continue the fall conference and add a similar conference in the spring.