Holding up flashlights, students from three high schools were given a private tour of empty office space in downtown Brunswick Monday.
It is part of the Coastal Entrepreneur Concept Project, launched this month by Skip Mounts, dean of the Business School at College of Coastal Georgia. The weeks-long program is designed to teach high school students the ins and outs of being a business owner or innovator.
The program, held before the start of school, will teach students how to move from an idea to a concept and blueprint and finally into execution.
The 12 students in the program are from Brunswick High School, Glynn Academy and Frederica Academy.
"We are discussing what is a problem for our community and what you can do to contribute to the conversation," Mounts said. "The students become the innovators who can address a need in our community. This is the first time we at the college have done something like this. The goal is to develop a real sense for being an entrepreneur."
Students and Mounts met for the first time last week to generate an idea of what they wanted their specific problem to be. They decided it would be bringing new life to downtown Brunswick.
At 7 a.m. Monday, students met with Mounts and a team of Realtors to tour the Kress Building on Newcastle Street. Students, Jahn and Mounts toured the space in the predawn hours in an effort to jumpstart their ideas for what to do with the space.
Students will meet with Mounts, their teams and business community mentors once or twice a week. They will present their ideas April 20.
Teams aren't just vying for bragging rights. The top three teams will be awarded scholarships from the college. First place teams will receive a $1,000 scholarship, second place a $750 scholarship and third place a $500 scholarship.
Mounts said he plans to expand the program in the future.
For Glynn Academy sophomore Matt Aldridge, waking up a little bit early to dive into his future is worth the extra-long school day.
He's already interested in developing a keener understanding about being an owner and community leader.
"I guess it's never too early to learn about the business world and how to develop new ideas to create change," Aldridge said.
That entrepreneur spirit is exactly the point Mounts is working to develop, he said.
"Just think, a year from now, one of the students may have developed a great idea for how to revise this building," Mounts said. "We're mixing sound advice and that youthful energy to help solve a problem, and that's exciting."