VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Preparing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, today. That was the objective of the Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads gathering at the Advance Technology Center in Virginia Beach.

High School students from around the region took part in what was called the "JA Spark Tank." They dreamed up business ventures, and then made their pitches as part of a competition.

Academic leaders say developing business skills such as critical thinking is crucial for the young people, and for the local economy.

"It is so exciting being in partnership with Junior Achievement and providing students the opportunity to really not just learn what it means to be an entrepreneur, but to get engaged in the process and really demonstrate their mastery," said Dr. Aaron Spence, Superintendent of Virginia Beach Public Schools.

Students from 13 area high schools have formed more than 40 actual businesses as part of the partnership with Junior Achievement.