A High School Shark Tank in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia

“Revolutionary Unique” was one of the many businesses pitched at the Dare to Dream
Competition for high school students in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Creating a brighter economic future for Appalachia means investing in leadership skills and capacity of young doers, thinkers and leaders today. That’s why ARC and our partners, like Lawrence Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and Shawnee State University, create and support opportunities to help Appalachia’s students get involved in the Region’s economic growth.

LECD and Shawnee state are both ARC POWER partners, using ARC support to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and capital access in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. A key element of LECD’s work included educating youth entrepreneurs, specifically through the Dare to Dream Competition, an opportunity for high school teams to develop and pitch a viable business to potentially win thousands in startup funding. This year’s eighth annual competition was hosted virtually by Shawnee State’s Kricker Innovation Hub, a facility that uses ARC support to provide entrepreneurial training and startup resources.

40 students participating in 13 teams presented ideas to a panel of judges including CEOs, senior executives, and regional leaders in higher education and innovation.  A total of $36,000 was distributed to students, with the first place winner, Locked and Loaded Game Birds, receiving $6,450. 

Other creative ideas included:

  • “The Musical Barn,” offers a unique learning experience to help people learn how to play musical instruments. The concept includes learning games like musical jeopardy to help people memorize notes, musical improv where people build on other peoples’ music like “follow the leader”, and more.
  •  “Padded Racing Jackets” protects racers from injuries as well as from the cold. They mentioned the market having a lack of adequately padded racing jackets. “we came up with padded racing jackets to keep racers all across America safe.”
  • “Revolutionary Unique” repurposes used clothing into one-of-a-kind garments, which reduces textile waste and the need for production of new materials. The students also teach others via social media how to bleach and repurpose clothing, in hopes of creating jobs and helping the environment.

The partnership between LECD, Shawnee State, and Dare to Dream is just one of many ways Appalachia’s students can hone their entrepreneurial skills. ARC is currently seeking rising high school seniors to participate in the Appalachian Entrepreneurship Academy, a free summer learning opportunity designed to cultivate creativity and develop skills essential for entrepreneurial success. 

Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and creators of new economic opportunities in Appalachia. Helping them dare to dream up new ideas, and providing the entrepreneurial support services to bring those ideas to life, paves a critical path to the Region’s growth.