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A summer of entrepreneurship: HRDC program to teach business skills to students

BEMIDJI—The Headwaters Regional Development Commission is partnering with BSU to develop a different type of summer camp.

From July 8-12, the inaugural Northern Minnesota Entrepreneur Academy will take place on the BSU campus. The week-long program is offered to high school age students and will offer classes on how to start and run a business.

Ryan Zemek, the program's director, said the academy came about in response to a lack of entrepreneurial education in the region.

"One of the things the HRDC is tasked with is economic development," Zemek said. "We reach out to learn what's going on in the local economy and we looked if there was an opportunity to highlight entrepreneurship as a career path. It's an initiative we saw a need for and we've taken about a year to plan it."

Over the course of the program, students will have the opportunity to connect with area entrepreneurs and network with other students. The course will include students brainstorming ideas, writing a business plan, learning finance skills and finally, pitching a plan to investors.

"We will be bringing in people who have expertise in finance, marketing and product development," Zemek said. "We'll be leaning on instructors from BSU and business owners who're working on these concepts in the real world."

Additionally, the course will inform students about startup funding, registration and business launching. Zemek said academy participants will also be encouraged to continue seeking mentoring from business owners.

"We really feel this will be an effort where students can learn more about local business opportunities and then find northern Minnesota can be the best place for their ideas to land," Zemek said. "We want students to see entrepreneurship as a career path and let them know this area is a great place to start a business and there will be a lot of help along the way when they make that choice."

Registration for the academy is open through June 1 and is limited to 24 students. The academy costs $275 with tuition, food and lodging all included. Scholarship and registration information for the program is available at " target="_blank">www.hrdc.org/.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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