FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Recognizing teenagers as potential job creators, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is investing in a new initiative intended to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in high school students.
Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled the initiative on Wednesday at a Capitol press conference. The state kicked in $50,000 to help start the program, dubbed the Governor's School for Entrepreneurs.
Modeled after the long-running Governor's Scholars program for academically gifted students, the new initiative is intended to encourage innovation and creative thinking among high school students interested in starting small businesses.
"We think the program will do much to nurture a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship," Beshear said.
With Beshear to announce the program was Chris Mills, co-founder of Hitcents, an Internet marketing company in Bowling Green. Mills and his twin brother, Clinton Mills, started the business as high school sophomores. It now has 60 employees.
"As you can imagine, two 15-year-olds who stumbled on to something like this, we started having to figure out: 'What is a balance sheet, how do you get incorporated, how do you look at profit and loss, how do you pay employee taxes, what is social security?'" he said. "All these questions came to two 15-year-olds that got thrown into it."
Mills said they turned to the Small Business Administration for help, but a program like the Governor's School for Entrepreneurs would have been more useful.
Beshear said the initiative fits into the state's strategy to build a high-tech economy by helping teens understand the process.
"We know that most of the net new jobs across the U.S. are being created by small, young companies," Beshear said. "Building a successful 21st century economy must begin by preparing our young people to be familiar with creative thinking and design thinking. We need them to fully understand the process of creating an innovative product or service and developing a business model around it."
The Governor's School for Entrepreneurs will be a three-week summer program held at Georgetown College in June. Up to 50 students, chosen competitively, will be invited to take part the first year.
Students will be divided into teams to develop an idea, then create and market it.
"The world is growing more sophisticated every day," Beshear said. "Innovation and commercialization are critical to our nation's prosperity and to Kentucky's ability to share in that prosperity. By developing talent early and broadly, we can dramatically enhance job creation and our competitive position."
Governor's School for Entrepreneurs: http://gse.kstc.com/