Nelson lives with his father, Juan Nelson, and stepmother, Irene Scott. He said he was motivated to take part in the scholarship contest by a speech given by Tallini. The teen said that when Tallini visited the senior class at Floral Park Memorial School to discuss the program last year, he convinced the students that they had a legitimate chance to come up with extraordinary ideas.
“He really made me feel like I could win,” Nelson said of Tallini. “He made me feel like I was the only student in the room.”
A trip to New Rochelle, Nelson said, was the turning point in his search for a revolutionary idea. New Roc City, as it is also known, was named by Business Week magazine in 2008 as the best city in New York state, and one of the best in the nation, in which to raise children. The city is known for its nightlife and its wide range of activities for residents.
“I came up with the idea [for Veterans Village] last summer after my trip to New Roc City,” Nelson said. “I said to myself, it would be cool to have something like this in Elmont, but bigger and better. The challenge was to come up with an idea that not only was beneficial to the families of Elmont, but would also make money.”
Tallini, who organized a variety of instructional seminars at the Elmont Library, acted as a mentor for the competing students. The evaluation of submissions, he explained, was based on five criteria: income potential, creativity, a written business plan, passion and potential value to the Elmont community. He said that Nelson’s plan would provide a huge boost to the community’s tax base, and that Nelson exhibited a particular edge necessary to be successful in business.
Tallini added that the Invest in Elmont program has been a unifying community force, and provides local youth with an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship — and, ultimately, to have a voice in Elmont’s future direction. “The future of Invest in Elmont gets brighter every day as more and more students participate,” he said. “We’re very proud.”