New program, new business leaders: Lemonade Day first in North Dakota

My last post expounded on the challenges of being ‘the Chamber’ and sometimes having to say no to a great idea or program. On the flipside, sometimes after all the pros and cons of an idea are vetted by staff and committees and boards; the answer is why not?

John Chin, a business real estate guru and native Floridian, approached me last summer with such a program. In my efforts to revamp, reorganize and reinvigorate the Williston Chamber the past 12 months, I am very hesitant about taking on new programs that sound good, but drain resources, time and funds without providing a member or community benefit. (Hint: read my last post!)

Businesses and business leaders (whom the chamber represents) have an obligation not only to add to the local economy (be profitable) but also to be role models and mentors to the future business leaders – our youth. The Chamber’s Leadership & Education Committee looked at Lemonade Day as a new program to reach our young people in Williston. In the end, we decided to give Lemonade Day a chance in Williston for 2015.

Williston will be the first city in North Dakota to host the program, aimed at young entrepreneurs to learn how to plan, design, build and execute a business plan – a lemonade stand!

Lemonade Day is a strategic learning process that walks youth from a dream to a business plan, while teaching them the same principles required to start any big company. Inspiring kids to work hard and make a profit, they are also taught to spend some, save some and share some by giving back to their community. Launched in Houston, Texas in 2007, Lemonade Day has grown from 2,700 kids in one city to more than 200,000 kids in cities all across the country.

My skepticism soon turned to enthusiasm, not because I love a fresh glass of lemonade, or that youth today need business role models closer to home. The real reason why Lemonade Day fits our Chamber mission is because of several things:

  1. A successful template is already employed elsewhere;
  2. It directly ties our businesses, business leaders, and the spirit of entrepreneurship to Williston’s youth;
  3. Lemonade Day brings a fresh approach to a program (youth entrepreneurship) to a city filled with people from all over the country; and
  4. It’s a community wide program with very few boundaries thus reaching a wider audience with a Chamber program than just current membership.

With volunteer leaders ranging from former mayor Ward Koeser, to John Chin and Drew Baker, to committee leaders Serena Christianson and Christina O’Neill taking the lead, to our Chamber staff; this made perfect sense as a Chamber program this year.

Sponsorships helped offset the license fee and materials. LD materials bags will be distributed next Monday (4/20) and Tuesday (4/21) at the

Lemonade Day kits with lessons and ideas

Lemonade Day kits with lessons and ideas

Chamber office. The kits are free for each student (thanks to the sponsors) and contain the lessons and worksheets to start your own business with a friend or neighbor. Adults play the role of “mentor” to the young enterprising business leaders, and help them with the lessons.

Then on June 14, 2015, all of the lemonade stands are posted around town in a celebration of youth leadership and fun! Local businesses are encouraged to host to a lemonade stand which again, ties our community leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. I am so very excited for the first ever Lemonade Day in North Dakota this coming June. If you need a couple of tips for your lemonade day business venture, take a listen to these kids, who sound like they just might have the makings of a great business owner.

We unveiled the program at the January 22 Chamber banquet thanks to two enterprising youth (sons of my staff!). The program has received some nice attention lately including a front page story in the Williston Herald, a nice spot on the KXMD noon show, and will be visible at this Saturday’s Kid’s Day Out at the Raymond Center, and Marketplace for Kids on April 28 at Williston State College.

Do you want to make a difference? Mentor a young entrepreneur through the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lemonade Day 2015.

Be involved. Make a difference.

Sjm

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