Tuesday, November 17, 2015

News: Jessie waltzes away with young entrepreneur of the year title

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Jessica Long, owner of the J L Dance Academy, has been named as the Rotherham Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015.

Part of the Rotherham Youth Enterprise (RYE) Project, which provides help and support to young business owners, the awards take place annually in partnership with UK Steel Enterprise, a subsidiary of Tata Steel that has set aside finance from its Kickstart Fund to target young entrepreneurs in Rotherham.

From her own studio base in Masbrough, 19-year-old Jess offers dance training and fitness classes for people of all ages and ability levels. Everything from baby ballet and street dance right through to zumba and pilates is catered for.

Jessie impressed judges to first win £500 in the Best New Start-Up category, with sponsor Richard Bailey of construction firm, Wilmott Dixon saying that the judges were "blown away by the level of entrepreneurial skill," adding that she showed business skills beyond her age.

Having entered the competition last year, it was on the very same day that Jessica stood in front of the judging panel that she signed the lease on her own premises in a former tile shop at the Old School House on Masbrough Street.

Having made the final but been empty-handed last year, judges admitted that, at the time, they had question marks about figures in the business plan and questioned what she was taking on. One year later and some classes now have waiting lists due to their popularity, encouraging the young entrepreneur to think about further expansion.

Jessica Long, owner of the J L Dance Academy, said: "I was running classes from rented accommodation and paying by the hour for rooms which didn't make business sense. The new premises are fantastic.

"I always wanted to run my own business - I never wanted to work for someone else - but this is thanks to a massive team effort. I've had lots of support from my family and Rotherham Youth Enterprise."

Jessie received a trophy, a further cash prize of £1,000 from Keith Williams from sponsor, UKSE, in addition to a year's membership to Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.

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Other category winners were Richard Codd of Team Katalyst who run a wide range of activities at their unique performance centre. In winning £500 as the "Business Most Determined to Succeed", sponsor Julia from Rotherham College said the business demonstrated growth potential and professionalism in providing opportunities for young people in the local community.

The Best Established Business, for those trading for over two years, was named as The Screening Project - where owner Jack Barton creates original and cutting edge digital media for businesses and charities around the country. Presenting the £500 prize, George Elliot from The Source was impressed by the "amazing" standard of all the entrants.

For the second year running, Infinity Digital was named as the borough's Most Innovative Business. Sponsor Richard from AESEEAL commended Rebecca Coupe's innovative business model, adding that the digital marketing expert's business was "vibrant and sustainable."

The awards were announced at the Local Employment Advisory Forum at Magna where finalists were also recognised and presented with £50 prizes.

Rotherham Youth Enterprise website

Images: Tom Austen

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