Youth Business Plan Competition Deadline Approaching

Posted on: October 19, 2015

The entry deadline for the 2nd Annual Marion County Youth Business Plan Competition is fast-approaching; Friday, October 30th at 5PM EST. Open to 9th-12th grade public, private, and home-schooled students in Marion County, the contest boasts a first-place prize package valued at over $3,500 (including $2,000 in cash). Meant to stimulate youth entrepreneurship in the community, the competition is a chance for young innovators to put forth their ideas for new product or service-based businesses in Marion County.

“Last year, we had 11 teams and 29 students participate,” said Ryan Lilly, Director of Business Creation for the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP). “This year, we expect even more entries, and hopefully wider representation from schools across the county.”

The 2015 competition is being made possible this year by two generous sponsors, a well-known local college and an upstart urban venture capital firm.

“Young aggressive entrepreneurs is what this world needs” said Linus Ocasio, Chairman and CEO of O.C. LAO Inc. and event co-sponsor.  “This competition allows kids to experiment beyond the realms of normality into optimistic reality.  The one thing I always held onto in business is my dreams and goals in life and letting nothing get in my way.”

Diana Hammond, President of Taylor College and the other co-sponsor said of the contest, “As a woman entrepreneur, here is one of my favorite quotes, I believe this says it all: ‘The Art of Earning a Living requires a great deal of self-inquiry into what, exactly, the difference you want to make is, and also a lot of creative, entrepreneurial problem solving to figure out how you could make decent money while making that difference.’ - Michael Ellsberg.”

Both Hammond and Ocasio will be joining a panel of judges for the final round of the competition, which will include presentations or “pitches” by students and will be open to the public. This finale, which will mirror the ABC television show Shark Tank, is scheduled for Friday, November 20th at 6pm at CTAE in Ocala.

More information on this competition, a flyer and an application packet can be found at:

For more information on O.C. LAO Inc. visit or call Director of Marketing, Josuah Rivera at (352)789-3613

For more information on Taylor College visit or call (352) 245-4119

Contact Ryan Lilly at 352-629-8051 x 125 or


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