By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
MILTON — Valley high school students from five communities are coming together for a unique program which provides a look into the business world, and ultimately the heart of their communities.
The Teen Business Innovation Zone, “T-BIZ,” program kicked off Wednesday, with a meeting of about 40 people, including students from Mifflinburg, Sunbury, Danville, Selinsgrove and Danville.
The program is an initiative of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Affiliates Committee, which is made up of representatives of several local Main Street and Elm Street programs.
The program’s goal is to have teen business incubator in each of the participating communities, whether it’s a physical location or a web presence, said George Venios, Milton Main Street Manager.
T-BIZ is a great for students with an interest in business and entrepreneurship to explore the opportunities in the area, said Cherie Ross, Main Street Manager for Mifflinburg.
“They’re here by their choice, learning about business,” she said.
Kaitlyn Wolf, 17, of Selinsgrove was one of the about 20 teenagers eager to explore the T-BIZ concept.
“I thought it was a really cool idea,” she said. “This is something I could really become involved in and make a difference in.”
But more than educating teens about business, T-BIZ is about getting them invested in the community and interested in staying in the Susquehanna Valley long term, said Jim Wilson, Main Street Manager for Danville and executive director of the Danville Business Alliance.
“This helps teens get more involved in communities and gives them reasons to live here or come back here after college.”
Mary Lee Stotler, a field service coordinator with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, agreed.
“We have a history in these communities and in order to make that continue we have to support it.” she said.
T-BIZ is a leader in the movement to do this, she said. Stotler said getting students involved and invested in downtown revitalization has been a topic of conversation at the state and national levels for awhile, but that T-BIZ is one of the first to develop in Pennsylvania.
“There is a lot of interest in what’s going on here,” Stotler said. “This is pretty unique.”