Nina Guerra’s first steps toward having her own business have been dance steps.

“I’ve been dancing since the age of 2,” said Guerra, 21, of the Del Haven section of Middle Township. “I’ve done traditional ballet, point, tap, jazz, and also gymnastics and contortion. I’ve recently also done belly dancing.”

Guerra’s dream is to open her own dance studio, so she took another big step: majoring in business management at Rowan University in Glassboro.

Her efforts have earned the applause of the judges of the annual Business Plan Competition held by the university’s Rohrer College of Business.

Guerra placed third out of 68 competitors last weekend for her plan to create the Dance To It Dance Studio, which in her plan would open in Cape May Court House.

The college junior said the studio would offer traditional dance classes to all ages, including ballroom, ballet and pole dancing, as well as yoga and Pilates.

She said her business plan is extensive and detailed, and includes finding a location for the studio, hiring staff, figuring out the financials, defining the market and outlining a marketing plan.

Her plan included partnering with her uncle, who has a karate studio in Marlton, Burlington County, to get started.

“It was 7½ months of work, but it all paid off,” she said.

One payoff, besides the small amount of prize money, was developing contacts and ideas for executing her plan.

Guerra said a judge suggested she talk to Rebecca Davis, who has a dance company in Philadelphia, and another person connected her to Jazz Unlimited in Marlton.

A graduate student at Rowan talked to her about an alternate method of starting up — renting space from an existing gym and opening a separate studio later.

Guerra said she knew starting a business is hard, and developing a plan has given her an understanding of what is involved. She incorporated the advice from the six judges — themselves business owners and founders — into her plan.

“I’ll weigh my options once I graduate,” she said. “If I get a great job offer, I’ll go that way. When the time comes for my own business, it will happen.”

Unions stable

New Jersey continues to have a much higher percentage of union members among employees — 16 percent in 2012 — than the national rate of 11 percent.

U.S. Department of Labor figures released this past week show union membership in New Jersey stabilized last year after falling from 20 percent in 2005.

Still, 16 percent is the lowest level of New Jersey union membership since the federal government started tracking it at the state level in 1989.

Among the 3.8 million people employed in the state last year, 611,000 were union members.

The state with the highest rate of union membership was New York, at 23 percent. Others above New Jersey included Washington State (19 percent), California (17 percent) and Michigan (17 percent).

The lowest membership rates are among Southern states, including Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi, which all had fewer than 5 percent of employees in unions.

Contact Kevin Post: