KeyBank grant

KeyBank announced a $60,000 grant for LOCATE Finger Lakes to launch a young entrepreneurs program in the region. A check presentation was held at the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce in Auburn. 

AUBURN — A new Finger Lakes business initiative will receive help from a major financial institution to establish an educational program for young people. 

The KeyBank Foundation will donate $60,000 over a three-year period to launch the LOCATE Finger Lakes' Young Entrepreneurs Academy. LOCATE Finger Lakes is a new initiative founded by Jack Bisgrove, an Auburn native, and led by former state Sen. Michael Nozzolio. 

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, known as YEA! for short, will be open to students ages 11 to 18. Each session of the program will last one academic year. Students will be guided through the process of launching a real business with the goal of carrying on that entity after leaving the class. 

Stephen Fournier, KeyBank's central New York market president, said the new program will help the bank's foundation support small business development. 

"The LOCATE Finger Lakes YEA! program will give young people the opportunity to learn and grow, and also explore careers that will keep them here in the Finger Lakes region," Fournier said. 

Bisgrove explained that KeyBank's support will help the Finger Lakes region become the latest to adopt the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. He said LOCATE Finger Lakes is encouraging community colleges and school districts in the region to participate in the initiative. 

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"This program will enhance business education for students and provide a unique, challenging and fulfilling experience for all participants," Bisgrove said. 

YEA! is a national program. There have been more than 9,000 graduates and the initiative has helped launch more than 6,000 new businesses. National sponsors include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Southwest Airlines. 

The academy was founded by Gayle Jagel in 2004. A national college scholarship competition is held every May in Rochester. YEA! partners with the Saunders Foundation and the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology to hold the contest. The winner receives a $30,000 scholarship. The runner-up and third place finisher receive $24,000 and $20,000 scholarships. 

Businesses, school districts and students interested in participating in the LOCATE Finger Lakes YEA! program should email locate@locatefingerlakes.com or visit locatefingerlakes.com and look for the YEA! link on the home page. 

The young entrepreneurs program is the latest announcement from Bisgrove regarding LOCATE Finger Lakes' future plans. The entity launched a website and established a social media presence in March. Bisgrove and Nozzolio view LOCATE Finger Lakes as a way to promote the region and encourage businesses to either commence or move operations here. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.