West Virginia Department of Commerce Flex-E-Grant Project: Students’ Free Enterprise Fair

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Flex-E-Grant Project: Students’ Free Enterprise Fair

Flex-E-Grant Student Free Enterprise Fair

One major objective of the Region VII Council is in implementing youth-oriented projects to engage young people with their communities – with the goal to retain bright young people in their home communities. The projects implemented develop future leaders in business and service.

When the West Virginia Wesleyan College SIFE Team (students in free enterprise) needed a partner for an economic project, Region VII Planning and Development Council agreed. The endeavor fit well with the council’s mission to promote economic development, leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

The Region VII Council suggestion for a Free Enterprise Fair fired the enthusiasm of Wesleyan’s SIFE team. The concept evolved into the first annual West Virginia Go Green Convention.

Region VII Planning & Development Council — which serves Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Randolph, Tucker and Upshur counties — applied for a grant to support participants from distressed and at-risk counties. SIFE and West Virginia Wesleyan College raised additional funds to cover costs not covered by the grant.

Tackling the project required regular organizational meetings with SIFE and Region VII staff. With the support of Region VII, students in the project have:

  • Engaged area high school student groups
  • Attracted participants from other area colleges
  • Booked the convention venue
  • Designed a media campaign that included television and Internet
  • Garnered support from area businesses
  • Contracted with a professional exhibit company to provide services to entrepreneurs exhibiting at the convention

The outcome resulted in over 800 students, local elected officials, guests and business firms participating in a community economic development event.