The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving throughout the Greater Hazleton area, as evidenced by the remarkable performance of local high school teams during the 2024 tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition Award Ceremony. The event, which took place last week at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA, saw two teams from the Greater Hazleton area advanced to the finals, with one team scoring an overall win.

MMI tecBRIDGE HBPC 2024 awardsCorey Buchman, a Junior from MMI Preparatory School, was announced as this year’s tecBRIDGE High School Business Plan Competition (HSBPC) Champion for his work on Presify, a platform designed to help users improve their public speaking skills by using a combination of AI technology and real time mentorship network. A new win for MMI, as this was the first year students from the private school participated in the regional competition.

Among the competition’s finalists were Kiera Kupsho and Kiara Vasquez from the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, representing their innovative venture - Global Grub. Their business idea, inspired by a shared passion for cultural diversity and cuisine, is a meal kit delivery box where recipients can choose the type of international cuisine they want to prepare at home on a subscription basis, including Brazilian, Chinese, Dominican, and more.

In addition to the teams that made it to the finals round of five, three other teams from the Greater Hazleton Area made it to the live presentation semifinals, held on Saturday April 13th: Katy Harmonosky from the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences; Mehak Manzoor from MMI Preparatory; and Melina Gregory from Hazleton Area Arts and Humanities Academy and Dallas Huff from Hazleton Area Academy of Science.

HAAS tecBRIDGE HBPC 2024 awardsStudents participating in the competition were challenged to create a STEAM-based business plan and tell their business story through a formal written response in hopes to be invited to the live presentation semifinals. This program allows high school students in Northeastern Pennsylvania to learn practical skills in a real-life setting and helps promote entrepreneurship and innovation within the community.

This year, CAN BE volunteers collaborated with students to help them organize and pitch their ideas to the judges through various mentorship sessions, providing confidence and skills that will serve these young entrepreneurs well into their futures.

The regional high school business plan competition has been a tradition in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 2018. Since its inception, CAN BE and other Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC) partners have dedicated time and resources to assist area high school students throughout the competition. This year’s finalists join the ranks of several past students from the Greater Hazleton area who had previously advanced to the finals including: Collin Greybosh (2018), Brandon Degrosa (2018 & 2019), Logan Buglio (2018 & 2019), Joseph Halcisak (2019), Brinn Gammer (2019), Jessiel Castillo (2019), Yaquira Morales (2019), Kaitlyn Marley (2022 & 2023), Jacob Marinock (2022), and Brian Simon (2023) – All from the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences.

Also announced during the ceremony was the winner of the Big Idea Essay Competition: Gabriel Garcia-Adon from Hazleton Area Academy of Science.

Finalists for the essay competition included three other students from the Greater Hazleton Area – Cory Buchman and Kendall Orozco of MMI and Katy Harmonosky of Hazleton Area’s Academy of Sciences. Participating students were asked to submit an essay identifying creative ways their school districts could work with tecBRIDGE to implement “initiatives related to space entrepreneurship within their communities”.

The essay competition started in 2020, and this year marks the third time a student from the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences won. Brinn Gammer wrote the winning essay in 2020, and Perla Villegas won in 2022.

Even for teams that don't advance to the gold, the HSBPC plays a vital role in educating students throughout the region about entrepreneurship and innovation. The experience also provides a platform for young entrepreneurs to apply these skills in real-world scenarios by proposing – and sometimes enact – a real business plan.

For CAN BE, who has helped create such opportunities in the community, business competitions like tecBRIDGE highlight the growth of young entrepreneurship in the community. Hazleton has always succeeded in these events, and as the Greater Hazleton Area continues to grow in industry and development, it is important to recognize the growing achievements of the young innovators within the community as well.

For more information about tecBRIDGE’s High School Business Plan Competition, contact CAN DO’s Director of Economic Development, Jocelyn Sterenchock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..