EDC challenge helps student entrepreneurs in Island County

Stanwood High School students Fernanda Gomez (at far left) and Tia Swinton talk about their business plan with mentor Jeff Ericson

Businesspeople from throughout Island County have volunteered to mentor high school students in the first “student entrepreneur challenge,” sponsored by the county’s Economic Development Foundation, said the challenge’s director, Sami Postma.

“The challenge is intended to give students tools and confidence to succeed,” Postma said. The group hopes to make the challenge an annual event.

So far, nine teams, each with between three and five students, signed up for the competition, she said. Each team is required to write a business plan, recruit investors and sell a product or service for one week.

The team with the highest profit at week’s end will win an in-school scholarship of $250.

Additional prizes include $100 per student for the most creative business and $100 per student for best use of Sno-Isle Libraries resources. The awards will be distributed at a dinner Dec. 11.

Of the nine teams, seven are from Oak Harbor, one from Camano and one from South Whidbey.

Each team will be assigned a mentor. Business ideas so far include selling candy or candles, baking, catering, landscaping, and taking portraits of seniors who can’t afford professional photographs.

Mentors include Chris Anderson from Century 21 Trophy, Oak Harbor; Lisa Bernhardt from the Pacific Northwest Art School, Coupeville; Jeff Ericson from Camano Island Coffee Roasters, Camano; Kimberly Hoctor from the Handbag Consignment Shop, Coupeville; Melissa McCumber from Whidbey Island Bank, Oak Harbor; Ron Nelson from the Economic Development Council, Coupeville; George Saul from Oak Harbor; Connor Tassof from Serendipity Catering, Coupeville; and Traci Winn from Porter Whidbey Insurance, Freeland.

The Economic Develop-ment Council Foundation pursues grants and educational opportunities.