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Candler County students receive $9,000 in FLEX business competition

Layla Smith, owner of Lens+Lettering and a 10th Grader at Metter College and Career Academy won first place and received $5,000 in the Candler County Schools FLEX competition. Click on the picture to read more.
L-R: Zach Johnson, 2nd place, Christian Goff, 3rd place and Layla Smith, 1st place.

Thursday night, March 29, 2024, Candler County Schools held their final FLEX Competition to determine which student entrepreneur would continue on to the state competition in April. 

The finalists received $9,000 combined in prize money to be used to build their businesses. DeWayne Grice, Grice Connect's Founder/Publisher, served as the emcee for Thursday's nights finals.

Layla Smith, owner of Lens+Lettering, was named the first place winner and will advance to the state completion. Layla is a 10th Grader at Metter College and Career Academy. Layla won $5,000 in the local competition thanks to many sponsors. Layla will move on to the state competition to be held April 12 in Fitzgerald.

Layla Smith presenting Lens+Lettering. DeWayne Grice

Second place went to Zach Johnson, owner of Salvage Boyz Baitz. Zach is an 11th Grader at Metter High School and won $2,500 to continue to invest in his business. 

Zach Johnson presenting Salvage Boyz Baitz. DeWayne Grice

Christian Goff, owner of Divine Decorative Desserts, was named third place winner. Christian is a 12th Grader at Metter College and Career Academy and has won $1,500 to continue her baking business. 

Christian Goff presenting Devine Decorative Desserts. DeWayne Grice

FLEX stands for Foundational Leadership and Entrepreneur X-Perience.

The FLEX program was built in Fitzgerald for their students and it’s grown to over ten college and career academies participating in a state competition, after the local competition is complete.

Students who have their own business or want to start their own business apply to join the local Flex program.

Candler Schools had over 47 students sign up for this in their initial year. The students were then sent to a workshop on building their business plans hosted by the Georgia Grown Center and taught by the Georgia Small Business Development Center.

From this point, they had around 25 students submit their business plans, which was round one.

The business plans were judged by professionals outside of Candler County, and the judges selected the top ten businesses. 

From there, these businesses attended workshops on financials taught by Candler County Synovus Bank professionals, marketing and sales taught by Hannah Mullins and Susannah Lanier, and public speaking taught by Hannah Mullins. 

After a sales pitch to another set of professionals, the top three teams were named at a FlexPro Business After Hours held at the Georgia Grown Innovation Center. 

Layla Smith with DeWayne Grice. Special

Thursday evening, those top three businesses competed with one final presentation to another set of judges, who again were not from this area, in front of a live audience.

Congratulations to all of the participants in The FLEX competition. 

These students get to run their own business, community members get to assist them and get to know our younger generation, and our local economy will thrive having new small businesses in Metter. This makes each participant a winner!