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Mercede Winberg and Reece Zimm: UMD Teen Enterprise Camp

Investing in the future isn’t always easy. Mercede Winberg and Reece Zimm, student interns funded through the LaBounty Center for Entrepreneurship at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, were instrumental in helping young entrepreneurs write their business plans at the first UMD Teen Enterprise camp.  Those who can, guide tomorrow’s leaders.

Mercede Winberg and Reece Zimm at CED

Mercede Winberg and Reece Zimm, student interns funded through the LaBounty Center for Entrepreneurship at the Center for Economic Development.  

Last summer, Mercede Winberg and Reece Zimm, student interns funded through the LaBounty Center for Entrepreneurship at the Center for Economic Development (CED), helped eleven aspiring entrepreneurs learn what it takes to achieve their dreams. Winberg and Zimm, students at UMD's Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE), were an integral part of a team that organized and delivered the first UMD Teen Enterprise Camp, a program developed for young people to experience entrepreneurship.

The camp was created, in part, because it met U.S. Small Business Administration and Minnesota Small Business Development Center’s goals of providing youth entrepreneurship opportunities. But it also sprang from a genuine desire on the part of Sandi Larson, program/project specialist with the CED, whose teenage son is interested in being an entrepreneur, to give teens an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship.

Larson wrote several grants seeking funding which were awarded to CED and received permission from Junior Achievement to adapt their program material. The concept gained momentum when Winberg, a finance major at LSBE, expressed interest in helping create the camp for CED. “I had been a volunteer presenter in classrooms for Junior Achievement for the past two years. I knew I could do it,” Winberg said.
Winberg developed the framework for the weeklong camp. “Mercede’s work establishing the curriculum was instrumental in ensuring that the idea of a youth entrepreneurship camp became a reality,” said Larson. After the framework was completed, CED staff, Winberg, and Zimm, a management information systems major, fine-tuned the program.  

Grant funding and a generous scholarship from Richard E. Braun, assistant director and consultant with CED, enabled young people to attend the camp for free. The camp drew students from Denfeld, East, and Hermantown High Schools, as well as Harbor City International, Lakeview Christian Academy and home schooled high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

From Concept to “Prezi”
The eleven attendees arrived prepared on the first day of camp. “Most came with an idea of a business,” Zimm said. The camp began with an introduction to Entrepreneurship. “We wanted them to understand what goes into starting a business,” Winberg said. On the second day, the youth toured Canal Park to see a variety of operating businesses and discuss the positives and negatives of franchises versus locally owned businesses as well as considering business location and other factors.

By the end of the second day, with their business ideas more clearly defined, the attendees began analyzing who their customers would be. Winberg and Zimm team-taught a segment on competitive advantages. “They did a lot of research on computers learning about industry standards, looking at their competitors, and researching costs of starting their businesses,” Zimm said.

During the week, the participants met several business owners and managers. Speakers included Chris Benson from Frost River, Kathlynn McConnell from Lifestyle Consulting Services, Greg Benson from Loll Design, and Tony Cuneo from the Zeppa Foundation. “The participants really enjoyed hearing from business owners,” Larson said.

The goal was for each attendee to present a business plan on the final day of camp to an audience that included the director and consultants at CED, a representative from Junior Achievement, and their parents.  By the fifth and final day, the attendees had completed their business plans and put them into PowerPoint or Prezi. The businesses included lawn care, an outlet store, a coffee shop, a printing press, an invention and more. “The plans were impressive,” Larson noted. “They really showed us that they embraced this project.”
Winberg and Zimm made huge contributions to the success of the camp. Larson said, “Not only did they do a great job teaching and leading throughout the week, but because the students were high school students, I think they really enjoyed hanging out with college students. Mercede and Reece were great UMD ambassadors.”

Expansion Ahead
Winberg and Zimm were excited by the response that they saw. “The kids were really interested in entrepreneurial ideas,” Winberg said. “Their enthusiasm shocked me: how creative they were, how passionate they were,” Zimm said. “It was great being able to teach the kids and interact with them,” he added.

The camp was a success, and at the close of this year’s program, some of the attendees were already asking when next summer’s camp would be. It is currently in the works and will be expanded to accommodate 20 youth.

For more information, visit the Center for Economic Development website.

UMD Teen Enterprise Camp attendees at Epicurean headquarters   Teen Enterprise Camp Graduates
UMD Teen Enterprise Camp attendees tour the headquarters of Epicurean in West Duluth.   Aboard the Vista Queen following graduation

Those Who Can, Duluth

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, October 2012

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