ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Local business owners partnered with Junior Achievement of Ashtabula County to help high school students pitch their big ideas at the JA Entrepreneur Challenge on Friday at Ashtabula Towne Square.

Friday’s business plan pitch competition allowed students the opportunity to present their business ideas to local entrepreneurs. The program empowers the students with presentation skills, marketing and financing knowledge, as well as, the chance to gain confidence in themselves, their own ideas and their future, said Patty Stone, district manager for Junior Achievement of Ashtabula County. 

“The competition teaches entrepreneurial thinking to students and fine tunes their business pitches,” she said. “It’s what they would need to get a business up and running.”

Seven student teams from three area high schools competed Friday in front of teachers, volunteers and three panel judges — Jenny Luhta, owner of Harbor Halcyon Restaurant, Chris Panzone, owner of Zone Cards and Games, and Greg White, business coach for SCORE.

The slide presentations included such things as start-up money, pay-back times, blue prints, business plans, fees and budgets.

Jefferson’s Team 1 pitched the idea of a gaming cafe, while A-Tech’s Team 1 pitched the idea of an anti-cyber threat company to protect its customers from identity theft. Jefferson Team 2 presented their idea for a protective covering for pierced earrings for students who play sports and Pymatuning pitched the idea of a taco truck.

Participating students were as follows:

• A-Tech Team 1 — Karina Ornelas and Seth Hering;

• A-Tech Team 2 — Bryan Schink, Vincent Schismenos, Landen Trainer and Layrami Alvarado-Roman;

• Jefferson Team 1 — Jordan Campbell, Jacob Rollman, Anthony Serra and Ryan Smith;

• Jefferson Team 2 — William Dye, Tristin Griffith, Kelsey Sidley and Mercedes Tabler;

• Jefferson Team 3 — Presley Locke, Jessica Myers and Kenneth Vanyo;

• Pymatuning Valley Team  — Brendon Strang, Meadow Gilpin and Logan Giddings, Abbey Owen, Kayla Zeidler, Carrie Sanislo and Gordon Hitchcock. 

Jefferson Team 2 won first place, garnering each student $100, and Pymatuning took second, with each student taking home $50.

Junior Achievement is a national organization that focuses on student programming to increase work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurial efforts.

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