A seven-month workshop designed to introduce middle- and high-school girls to the principles of business, innovation and entrepreneurship wrapped up with a real-world approach, as the participants pitched their ideas for the next great restaurant.

Twenty-six young women, ages 12-17, spent 12 Saturdays at Fisher as part of the Girls Heart Reading Ohio – Cycle 7 program exploring leadership and teamwork in an entrepreneurial setting. The program, which, in past years, has explored literature, body image, college planning, service learning and health and wellness, tapped into Fisher’s faculty and staff to explore entrepreneurship.

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The Girls Heart Reading Ohio provided participants the opportunity to hear from guest speakers and learn in a classroom environment.

“Fisher is proud to help provide these talented young women with an immersive experience into business and entrepreneurship,” said Francisco Gomez-Bellenge, associate to the dean for special projects at Fisher and coordinator of the event. “The dedication of our students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends was evident throughout the course of the workshop, and their commitment is helping to introduce a new generation of leaders to positive and impactful careers in business.”

The program also provided the girls with introductions to key business skills, including networking, mentorships and leadership. Students also explored basic accounting, marketing, supply chain, nutrition and innovation. Throughout the months-long initiative, participants engaged with business and restaurant professionals. A highlight was a tour of the Bistro 2110 at The Blackwell Inn and Conference Center and Q&A session with Executive Chef Daniel Heckathorn.

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Participants with Daniel Heckathorn, executive chef at The Blackwell Inn and Conference Center.

The program culminated in a Shark Tank-style competition, where students pitched their restaurant concepts after having built a comprehensive business plans. Business leaders from throughout the community supported the program.

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Winners of the Shark Tank pitch competition.

Speakers included Monica Quintero Bond, president of TQ Consulting; Kim Bartley, White Castle Marketing CMO; and Carlos Gutierrez, owner of the El Arepazo restaurants. The “sharks” were Alex Mendoza, owner and operator of McDonald’s franchises throughout the region; Dr. Katherine Gonzalez Owner/Operator of Empanadas & More Food Truck; and Javier Sanchez Owner/Operator of Reach Communications, Inc.

Cycle 7 was conducted by Femergy, a nonprofit organization that provides holistic programs and products aimed to enhance girls and women in the areas of Education, Leadership, Health, and Wellness, and in partnership with Fisher and Prospanica Columbus, the local chapter of Hispanic business professionals.