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South Bend's start-up scene inspires high school students

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

A new generation of entrepreneurs is looking to turn South Bend into a hub for business start-ups.

Thursday, several high schoolers involved in the program St. Joe CEO hosted the networking event, “Start-Up the City” at the Palais Royale.

And now they’re looking to inspire more to become their own boss.

Marion High School student Marielle Corbett took advantage of the event by presenting her business plan for a food delivery service, “Oh la Mar.”

“I created something where people can have the healthy choices they want but they don’t have to waste their time going in the stores picking them out,” said Corbett.

Corbett says her project has developed into a business thanks to the support she’s received.

“I’ve made so many connections in the city that I got a lot of help from my mentors and people just all over the city with ideas of how to create my business,” she said.

Many of those connections were provided through the St. Joe CEO program.

The program also taught students how to carry themselves like young professionals.

“I was a shyer person, I wasn’t as comfortable talking to adults and networking and St. Joe CEO really taught me how to put myself out there and take every opportunity,” said Maddy Mctigue, Marian High School student.

The few dozen students a part of the program also got the opportunity to rub elbows with movers and shakers from around the city.

“The meaningful work that they’re putting in right now inspires and encourage us to do the same and try to impact the city the same way,” said Louis Nanni, St. Joseph High School student.

The program is funded by local businesses.

Those stakeholders also participate in classes and mentorship programs for St. Joe CEO, in the hopes of creating the next wave of entrepreneurs for the city.

“We’re thinking that 20 years from now this will all look very different, these [students] will be the community leaders that are all helping drive the local economy,” said Jeff Rea, president and CEO of South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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