David Zhang
11th Grade
Richard Montgomery High School
Rockville, MD
Maryland – 1st Place Winner

A Dynamic Duo

    Envision a greater Greater Washington Area. There is quality education for everyone. There is minimal crime, and a more efficient Metro transit system. Creativity and individuality are the most esteemed values, and the ideas of all ordinary people are considered fairly and justly. Then, our community would truly be extraordinary. Therefore, the question that we must confront today is not so much “What if?” rather than “How?” to reach this goal. We have the capability to achieve such a future. Anything is possible if young entrepreneurs and the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia come together in working towards a better tomorrow. 

    First off, you may be asking, why young entrepreneurs? Why local governments? And most importantly, why would a partnership between the two be ideal to improving the quality of life in the Greater Washington Area? Young entrepreneurs have limitless energy, potential, and passion, as well as a stubborn drive to succeed. In addition, they also have firsthand experience of the business world and an unbiased understanding of the economic environment. And while it is the federal government that may permeate most areas of society, it is the local governments of DC, Maryland, and Virginia that most directly affect our lives. Together, they can form an effective force for change in Greater Washington. 

    Young entrepreneurs can do what local governments cannot. Young entrepreneurs are great sources of exposure, as a result of their knowledge of new technologies and their appeal to markets where younger consumers dominate. On the other hand, local governments have the potential to aid young entrepreneurs in becoming successful by offering funding and assistance programs. As I was researching for this essay, I navigated to the Montgomery County Government website and took a look at the business section. Although there were programs in place to aid women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, and disabled entrepreneurs1, I was shocked to discover that there was not a single one dedicated to helping young entrepreneurs succeed in the competitive business environment of Greater Washington. Cooperation between young entrepreneurs and local governments can enable both parties to promote the quality of life. 

    For instance, let us examine the summer reading program of the Montgomery County Public Libraries. It was a popular program in the Montgomery County Public Library system, where kids of all ages would be rewarded for reading over the summer when school is out, but recently canceled as a result of decreased staffing from budget cuts. Despite that over 23,000 kids2 participated in its last year of existence, the program was ironically scrapped because there weren’t enough people. One potential solution to this issue is a call for young entrepreneurs to take over the program. Not only do the local governments resolve the shortage of human resources, but young entrepreneurs can also gain valuable experience as well as develop a mutually beneficial relationship with local governments. However, the people that will benefit the most from this partnership would be the kids—encouraging reading is investing in the future of the Greater Washington Region. 

    Local governments and young entrepreneurs are not just restricted to this instance, though. There are many opportunities for a cooperative effort on their part to improve the quality of life in Greater Washington. For instance, many parents in Fairfax County3, as well as counties all over the area, are complaining that the food offered in the cafeterias to students are unhealthy and devoid of any nutrition. This runs counterintuitive to lessons in health class, in which students are taught to maintain physical health through eating well. Young entrepreneurs can remedy this by creating businesses built around the idea of a cost effective solution to the nutritional problem. Improving the health of the next generation improves the health of the future. 

    In business, perhaps the most important thing is fresh ideas originating from the next generation. Ideas may seem insubstantial, but to have a good idea one must think of something that is at once creative, original, and feasible. For this reason, local governments and young entrepreneurs can also empower the next generation through the encouragement of all ideas. Primarily, this will foster the growth of individual innovation and also create a new generation of young entrepreneurs. But as shown by the Greater Washington Initiative, an affiliate of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Greater Washington Area is the region with the fifth largest venture capital in the nation, $804 billion dollars4. Therefore, an increase in the amount of future entrepreneurs will cause greater consumption. Furthermore, the young entrepreneurs of today can become the venture capitalists of tomorrow and invest in those ideas which they think are economically sound. Therefore, this stimulation in the economy will benefit all who reside in the Greater Washington Area. 

    Recently, my sister attended the Halloween Young Run in Rockville, Maryland. This event fosters a love of running in youth, but I saw it also as a valuable opportunity for young entrepreneurs and local governments to step in and better the Greater Washington Area. Taking a look at the sponsor list, I saw only five local companies who supported the event. Reflecting on this Junior Achievement Essay, I realized that it is events like these that young entrepreneurs and local governments should take heed to. To empower the next generation, it is necessary to foster interests and hobbies that will develop into lifelong passions. Sponsoring more community events, local governments and young entrepreneurs can not only offer youth the opportunity to discover their individual potential but also ensure that the next generation will bring their talents to the Greater Washington Area and improve the quality of life. 

    The Greater Washington Area is a diverse and affluent region, with both Fortune 500 companies and ambitious start-ups. It is a community of hard workers, of idealists, and of dreamers. I know that if young entrepreneurs and local governments came together and partnered to aid each other in their respective goals and encouraged more community events and ideas, the Greater Washington Area would become a much greater place to live. 


  1. Calamaio, Cody. “Summer Reading is Latest Budget-Cutback Victim.” The Washington Post 8 July 2010: n. pag. The Washington Post. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/07/AR2010070702984.html.
  2. Fox, Peggy. “Fairfax County Moms Push For ‘Real Food’ In Schools.” 9 News Now. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.http://www.wusa9.com/news/virginia/article/172507/188/Fairfax-County-Moms-Push-For-Real-Food-In-Schools--.
  3. Montgomery County Business Programs and Opportunities. Montgomery County Government, n.d. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/opi/service/portal_service.asp?orderby=Alphabetical&subcatid=13.
  4. Venture Capital. Greater Washington Initiative, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.http://www.greaterwashington.org/regional-data/venture-capital.aspx.