Albany, GA – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy (4C Academy) have partnered to bring FLEX (Foundational Leadership and Entrepreneur X-perience) to Albany in local program “FLEX ABY.”
FLEX is a statewide youth entrepreneurship competition designed to encourage innovation, create prosperity and revitalize rural entrepreneurial ecosystems by exposing students to the rewards, challenges and processes associated with starting a business.
“Studies show that Gen Z is more entrepreneurial than generations preceding them, with 60 percent of teens reporting serious interest in starting their own business,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany area Chamber. “To capitalize on this, it is important for the Albany community to demonstrate support for aspiring entrepreneurs, to help foster innovation, retain talent and spur local investment and business partnerships in the long run.”
FLEX was founded in nearby Fitzgerald through a partnership between the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Chamber of Commerce, Fitzgerald High School College and Career Academy and Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Development Authority. The program has recently expanded statewide.
FLEX ABY will kick off with students from 4C Academy, which encompasses students from throughout the Dougherty County School System as well as districts from surrounding counties.
“FLEX is an exciting opportunity for our students. So many of our young team members are interested in entrepreneurship and many have already started their own businesses,” said Chris Hatcher, CEO of 4C Academy. “This competition will help them by providing seminars, mentors and even a cash prize for the three finalists. Most importantly, it will expose them to a formalized business planning process as well as to members of our business community who are looking to help.”
The local competition is comprised of three phases, with one winner advancing on to the state finals, to be held in Fitzgerald in April 2023.
Finalists are awarded seed money to help fund and expand their business. Locally, a total of $9,500 will be given in cash awards, with $5,000 going to the local winner.
“Our goal through FLEX ABY is to encourage interest in entrepreneurship and to chart a path towards business ownership for our young people,” said Jana Dyke, president & CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. “Investing in our students now will better enable them to invest back into our community later on.”
Student interest is currently being vetted for the competition, which will kick off with round one of local competition in November 2022.
FLEX ABY is seeking community support though tax-deductible financial investment and volunteers to serve as competition judges, one-on-one student mentors and subject matter workshop hosts.
To get involved with FLEX ABY, fill out the commitment pledge form here.