April 18, 2019  

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Southern Entrepreneurship Program Crowns State Winners

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Biloxi High School student Anthony Murray, left, accepts his first-place prize from James Wilcox, director of the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. (Submitted photo)

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) concluded its series of educational high school events and competitions on Friday, May 1, by hosting its 8th annual SEP State Business Plan Competition on The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus.

The event was sponsored by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education and hosted by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, an educational outreach unit of the Southern Miss College of Business.

Through a series of regional and online qualifiers held in April, the top 20 student business plans from across Mississippi were individually selected to advance and participate in the state finale. Roughly half of the student businesses represented were actively generating profits as of May 1 and included professional photography and lawn care services, as well as handmade products including custom bowties, sugar scrubs, and reclaimed wood décor.

High schools contending for the top prizes this year included Bassfield, Biloxi, Florence, Germantown, Gulfport, Poplarville, and Richland.

Daisy Stutts and Madeline Sheller, students at Petal High School, took first place in the competition’s StartUp Division for Stutt’s functioning business Daisy Stutts Photography. Second place in this division was awarded to Biloxi High School student Anthony Murray for his business Flare Clothing, and Germantown High School students Andrew Butler, Zach Wright, and Lizzy McLemore were awarded third place in this division for Butler’s business Pinnacle Lawn Management.

Florence High School students Wesley Evans, Koalbee Brown, and Adam Purvis took first place in the competition’s Concept Division with their joint business idea InTune. Second place in this division was awarded to Florence High School students Destinee’ Hope Whittington and Ashlynn Mitchell for their business idea Sugar N’ Spice. Tied for third place were JaQuala Green of Bassfield High School for her business idea Soothing Minds and Gulfport High School students Courtland Barnes and Chelsea Ramsey for their business idea “The Show” Unique Bows.

In addition to his second-place win in the StartUp Division, Murray was also recognized as the 2015 winner of the program’s coveted SEP Making Money Now! Award which honors one outstanding high school student each year for embodying the entrepreneurial spirit of the Southern Entrepreneurship Program. In order to qualify for this award, students are required to successfully develop a profitable business venture by beginning with a $10 personal micro-investment and leveraging their profits to demonstrate incremental growth over the school year.

Clementine Fantroy, Murray’s teacher at Biloxi High School, stated that she has continuously engaged her students in the Southern Entrepreneurship Program since the program was founded in 2007.

“It is such a path to success for students. It allows students a means through which they can develop their talents,” said Fantroy. “After all, our talents are what lead us into a career field to provide a living and to make a contribution to our economy.”

The Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is offered as an experiential education program for Mississippi’s high school students and is operated by the Southern Miss Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. For further information, contact James Wilcox at james.b.wilcox@usm.edu.