Jefferson Community College's annual Entrepreneurship Day was filled with innovative ideas and business plans from local high school students and business owners.
About 300 high school students gathered Friday morning in the Sturtz Theater at JCC to hear ideas and advice from local business owners, and to see their classmates compete in a business-concept competition.
The event kicked off with introductions from Brian H. Murray, associate professor of business at JCC. Mr. Murray told students that they are at an advantage if they want to start a small business in the north country.
"There is a certain entrepreneurial spirit in places that have been economically depressed in the past, because people have to become really innovative. And people really want to see you succeed," Mr. Murray said.
Melissa A. Ringer-Hardy, owner of Bella's Bistro in Clayton; Kevin L. Richardson, president of North Country Farms LLC, Watertown; Stephen J. Conaway, owner of Thousand Islands Winery, Clayton; and Amanda L. Widrick, Adams, editor of Bit and Bridle magazine, all entrepreneurs with varied types of businesses in the north country, spoke to the students and gave advice for young entrepreneurs.
Ms. Widrick, 21, told students they don't have to wait until after graduation to start a business venture.
"It doesn't matter how old you are; I started writing at the magazine at 19. If you have ideas, pursue them," she said.
The day's main event was the business-concept contest for high school students. Four teams competed in the final event for the grand prize of $1,000 to put toward a business venture.
The student groups presented their business concepts to the audience and a panel of judges.
The first-place business, North Shore Web Development, has been up and running for a few years. Matthew S. Turcotte, Clayton, a senior at Thousand Islands Central School, Clayton, is the business's creator.
Mr. Turcotte has designed Web sites for the Clayton Fire Department and Coyote Moon Winery, and has clients as far away as California. He will be featured in the next issue of Absolutely Business magazine, and is writing a book about running an Internet-based company.
"Having your own business is about doing what you love," Mr. Turcotte said. "And I love what I do."
THE WINNING CONCEPTS
n First place, $1,000 prize: North Shore Web Development, Thousand Islands Central School
/ Second place, $500 prize: S Stop Restaurant, Watertown High School
/ Third place, $250 prize: Shine Design Marketing, Watertown High School
/ Fourth place, $125 prize: Far From Famous, a marketing business for skateboarders, Indian River Central School