At LSBE, our mission includes supporting outreach and experiential-based learning programs that set our region up for economic success.
As part of this goal, Sandi Larson, program and workshop coordinator at the UMD Center for Economic Development, a program of LSBE, spearheaded UMD Teen Enterprise. The free, weeklong summer camp gave 11 high school students the opportunity to learn first-hand what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
"Small businesses are a very important part of any local economy. In developing entrepreneurial spirits at a young age, we hope our youth will start businesses here and be part of our growing economy in the Northland," said Larson.
The program was funded through grants from LSBE, the LSBE Roy LaBounty Center for Entrepreneurship and the Minnesota Small Business Development Center, as well as a generous scholarship from Richard Braun, UMD CED assistant director and business consultant.
Day one of camp kicked off with a tour of campus and a general introduction to entrepreneurship. Throughout the week, following "Be Entrepreneurial" curriculum developed by Junior Achievement, participants learned about all aspects of starting and owning a company, from business planning and market analytics to product differentiation, management, and ethics. They visited a number of local businesses and met successful owners and managers, including Chris Benson from Frost River, Greg Benson from Epicurian, and Tony Cuneo from the Zeppa Foundation.
On the final day, students presented business plans for their own companies to people from UMD CED, a Junior Achievement representative, and their parents. The projects included a variety of business ventures, from an outlet store to a printing press company to an invention.
Ben Larson, a high school junior who participated in the program, said the experience helped him understand the hard work that goes into making entrepreneurial dreams a reality. "I want to own a restaurant someday, and UMD Teen Enterprise gave me practical ways to increase my odds of being successful. It was a great experience," he said.
With the success of this pilot program, Sandi Larson says plans are already in the works for expanding the camp in 2013. CED intends to increase the number of spaces in the program and also plans on holding the camp in Virginia, Minn., at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.