Chase Jackson plans to participate in the upcoming Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which will teach young people ages 11 to 18 how to develop a business idea and find investors to make it a reality.


Actually, Chase, an Aiken High School sophomore, already is a businessman. He operates Chasin’ Weeds Lawn Care, with the assistance of his mother, Patrice Jackson.


The Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce is coordinating an 8-month program intended to help participating students become entrepreneurs. Slots remain available.


“I want to learn how to expand the business, and I can do that here,” Chase said during an informational meeting at the Chamber office last week.


The academy has investors to support it and as many as 60 people to work with the teenagers in a series of classroom sessions and presentations. Mandy Collins, a Chamber staffer, is directing the academy, also known as YEA. It’s a national program introduced to communities through the U.S.


The deadline to submit an application is Sept. 30.


“It’s very exciting being able to merge the business community with the student community,” she said earlier this year. “We’ll be able to put the things together that I love.”


Collins will get a mother’s perspective too: Her son, Mason, a South Aiken High School student, has registered for YEA.


“I’d love to try it,” Mason said. “It sounds like something fun to do, and I would like to start my own business.”


Another South Aiken student, senior Evan Boddy, said his parents, Derrick and Lori Boddy, told him about YEA.


The program offers the chance to perfect skills in the business world, Lori said.


“We want him to be successful in the U.S.,” said Derrick. “It’s way beyond just working at it. The business of the U.S. is business.”


Chase Jackson got his start working with his grandfather in a lawn service when he was younger. His granddad had some leftover equipment, and by the seventh grade, Chase was cleaning up weeds for some of his mother’s friends. Patrice serves as his driver, equipment manager, treasurer and secretary, she said with a smile.


“There are 10 clients we do regularly,” Chase said. The work can be especially challenging at times, he said, and he gets jobs where the weeds haven’t been cut in a year.


The number of clients has risen as high as 20 at times. The young man has had to outsource some jobs to other teens when he is involved with golf camps or other activities. He anticipates YEA will offer invaluable experience for the future.


“After I graduate from high school, I want to continue this in college,” Chase said. “But this is not where I see myself after that.”


His younger siblings, 13-year-old twins Chanler and Chance, may participate in YEA. Chanler wants to establish her own business, as well.


“She doesn’t want to work with me,” Chase said.


The cost for the year is $195, with books and supplies included. Scholarships are offered on the basis of need and merit.


For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1tQVumx or call the Chamber at 803-641-1111.


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.