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James L. Sorenson, Salt Lake businessman and philanthropist, has donated $15,000 as prizes in the Young Entrepreneur Search, a program that rewards high school students who sell services or products, raise crops or livestock or perform research.

The grand-prize winner will receive $10,000; second place $3,000; and third place, $2,000. The prizes will be awarded Friday, March 6, during the Governor's Conference on Economic Development in St. George.Lynn D. Blake, co-director of the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development, praised Sorenson for helping students develop the skills necessary to operate successful businesses. He said that so far, Sorenson has played a leading role in the establishment of six businesses that employ more than 15,000 workers.

Blake said that because of Sorenson's involvement, the Young Entrepreneur Search program will be expanded in the 1992-93 school year. In addition to the prize money, conferences will be held in various parts of the state to educate students in product design, quality manufacturing principles, marketing and employee/customer relationships.

Sorenson founded Deseret Pharmaceutical (now known as Deseret Medical), purchased a Salt Lake clothing manufacturing company called LeVoy's and established the medical device companies of Abbott Critical Care Systems, Sorenson Medical Inc. and Sorenson Laboratories.

He established DataChem Laboratories to commercialize environmental chemistry technology and last year acquired MultiTechnology Inc., a business that markets precision scientific products for use in molecular biology research.