VALDOSTA -- Four students from Echols County High School presented a business proposal for a new pizza place in the area Thursday afternoon during the third annual Free Enterprise Bowl at the Valdosta State University's University Center theater. Three other schools in the region competed: Brooks County High, Valdosta High and Lanier County High.

During the course of their half-hour presentation, which included Powerpoint slides, the four-student team detailed how they came up with the idea for another pizza restaurant, their major competitors and how much they anticipated their endeavor to cost. After they finished, the students had to answer questions from the judges, all of whom are regional businessmen. Afterward, they watched the other teams as they presented their business plans.

Judges awarded points based on the quality of the presentations. Teams could be awarded up to 55 points for their presentations.

According to Dr. Wayne Plumly, a VSU economics professor, the purpose of the Free Enterprise Bowl is to help high school students learn more about business and to develop their confidence levels.

Earlier that morning, the students competed against each other in a "Jeopardy"-type question-and-answer format. Points were awarded for each question asked.

Only three schools participated in the business proposals: Brooks County High School left the competition after the morning competition. According to marketing education teacher Jack Brown, applying for and receiving industry certification took a lot of time, leaving the students with little time for preparation. However, the students are preparing for next year's event. This was the school's second year participating in the event.

"The students had an opportunity to gain a lot of positive information," Brown said, adding that they learned business advice and skills from entrepreneurs and other business leaders.

At the end of the day, an awards ceremony was held. Plaques and trophies were awarded. Lanier County came in first, Echols County second, and Valdosta High third.

"I think we did really well," said Ron Begona, Echols County High economics teacher. His students, all of them freshmen, said they had fun and were excited that they placed as well they had.

To contact reporter Marie Arrington, please call 244-3400, ext. 254.

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