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UMD Teen Enterprise: Educating Young Entrepreneurs

Participants from the 2013 Teen Enterprise camp research the competition. 
UMD Teen Enterprise 2013 participants  
Touring local businesses allows teens to gain a unique perspective on owning a business.  
Participants from 2013 work on their business plans.  

When they were little, they probably opened up lemonade stands, mowed lawns, or walked dogs. They are entrepreneurs by nature, with a knack for business.

The UMD Teen Enterprise, offered through the University of Minnesota Duluth and the UMD Center for Economic Development, is the perfect camp for high school students who have that entrepreneurial spirit.

This year’s Duluth camp will be held August 11–15, from 8:30 am­–4 pm. The camp provides participants with a wide range of tools and exercises to take these budding entrepreneurs from concept to business plan.

For registration information, visit the Center for Economic Development website, email, or call 218-726-7975. Space is limited.

Teens who attend this camp are in all stages of entrepreneurship. Some already have businesses, some have an idea, and others just want to know more. UMD LSBE students, who are interning with the CED, along with CED business consultants and staff, work with the high school teens to give them an introduction to entrepreneurship, help the teens do research to understand products, customers, competition, location, industry standards, and costs of starting a business. 

The teens gain business-planning skills for venture start-up, marketing, financing, management, and ethical decision-making. The advantages and disadvantages of franchises versus locally owned businesses are also discussed. “We try to give them a wide and balanced range of information so that the teens can be thorough in their approach to starting a business,” said Sandi Larson, public engagement coordinator at the UMD Center for Economic Development

Along with classroom learning, the camp also invites local business owners to speak to the young people, to share their experiences, and lend encouragement. The teens also tour local businesses and have the opportunity to take a Duluth harbor cruise. 

The goal for each teen is to present a business plan on the final day of camp. The audience for the presentations include CED Director Elaine Hanson, CED consultants, a representative from Junior Achievement, and the parents of the teens. Business plans are presented via PowerPoint or Prezi.

Because of the popularity of the program, UMD Teen Enterprise camp is also being offered this year in Grand Rapids, Minn., Aug. 20–22.

R & D
Past participants have been enthusiastic about the camp. “My favorite part would have for sure been visiting the different businesses. It was very interesting,” said one young person. Another teen stated, “I very much enjoyed hearing from real entrepreneurs.”

Launched in 2012, 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 Larson, whose teenage son was interested in being an entrepreneur, to give teens an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship.

The program is made possible through partnerships and funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Minnesota Small Business Development Center, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE).

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

By Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, June 2014

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