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Justice Waite sets bar as region’s young CEO

LAPLACE — Young River Region CEO Justice Waite is taking her business plan to a national competition.

Waite, owner of Silly Sweet Shop, advances to the YEA! Saunders Scholars National College Scholarship competition, where she will compete for college scholarships and an all-expenses paid trip to America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will fund the national winner’s expenses.

Waite won the local competition April 21 when the River Region Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) took the stage at John L. Ory Magnet to present their business plans to an audience and a panel of local industry leaders.

Each student had six minutes to pitch their business plans. Based on the appeal and merit of the students’ presentations, representatives from companies including Sam’s Club and Entergy determined the amount of funds to award to each business.

YEA! participant Charles Franck, owner of Franckly Jerky, was also awarded a $500 shopping spree at his local Sam’s Club.

YEA! business owners included Waite, Ra’Janae Morris of 3L Color Guard Kiddie Camp, Frank, Dalton Bergeron of MSC (Media Services Company), Tristian McKinney of Fogo Logos, Caleib Batiste of SCY-TEC, Braxton Amos of Sweet Retreats and Elijah McKennis of Elijah’s Cell Phone Accessories.

The eight students in YEA! at the River Region Chamber are among 8,000 students in 38 states nationwide enrolled in the 30-week entrepreneurial education program that teaches kids how to generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors and launch their own, legally-registered companies.

The local investor panel was comprised of prominent members of the local business community, including Dent Hunter, Sam’s Club Manager in Kenner; Steve Sawyer with Cox Communications; Kerry Jones with Entergy; Conley Dutreix with First American Bank; Rene Ockman with International Matex Tank Terminals; Tyler Williamson with Marathon Petroleum Company; Kevin Hebert with St. Charles Printing; Matt Lundy with REI Promos; and Kathryn Grimball with Nalco.