Did you know the USA has over 100 self-made millionaires? ..... Under 14?
The #1 "no-brainer" for economic development is nurturing youth entrepreneurship.
Youth entrepreneurship training is associated with:
1) increased HS grad rates,
2) increase college attendance, and
3) an increased belief that there's a future for their hometowns.
Idaho as Best Practice?
One killer best practice for nurturing young entrepreneurs is the "Business Week" model. And Idaho Business Week is one of the best and director Vickie Horn is a passionate champion. For 30 years, it's provided an immersion experience for HS students that's a lot of fun (check the video at www.launchidaho.org!) AND provides a first-class introduction to what it takes to think entrepreneurially.
“Master Class” for Entrepreneurial Thinking
The key is to learn an entrepreneurial mindset - to think more like expert entrepreneurs do. We can teach kids (and adults) all about the tools they need. But it takes truly experiential learning, guided by experts, to grow that entrepreneurial mindset. Idaho Business Week's genuine problem-based learning delivers! (Think of IBW as a "master class" like even young musicians have.)
Key Piece of the Puzzle
Moreover, Idaho Business Week is an important piece of Idaho's puzzle. We have other mechanisms with more in the pipeline, but IBW adds a unique component. It's only real limitation is that it needs to be statewide. I would be remiss to not mention just some of the other pieces of Idaho's growing entrepreneurial efforts.
Earlier this month, I got to judge the finals of Invent Idaho at the Discovery Center, where Woody Sobey's program gets amazing inventions from 1st-8th graders... who all seem to understand the concept of the value proposition. The Idaho Rural Partnership's entrepreneurship task force under Mike Field is working on a distance-delivery course so any Idaho student can get world-class entrepreneurship training. Just this year, 4-H clubs now have a killer new program for their kids. And, yes, Junior Achievement is still out there doing well too. And this is just a few of the programs out there (apologies to the others!) However, none does what IBW does.
Or Why I'm Telling You This...
Idaho Business Week ain't cheap, folks. They heavily subsidize the participants, so anyone can attend regardless of circumstances, though distance is an issue, so Vickie is working to deliver IBW in 3 different spots (hosted by NNU, UI & CSI). To make IBW available across the state, Idaho Business Week needs to raise $110,000 ASAP. This is an investment in Idaho's future. [TechBoise.com graciously linked the full letter from IBW's Board.]
Please pass this along to friends, employers, and definitely the entrepreneurs you know! And even if you can't invest, will you drop Vickie an email of support? Or invite her to speak? (If you're an alumnus of IBW, she'd love to hear from you!) Vickie Horn's email is email@example.com.
Norris Krueger, PhD
IRP entrepreneurship task force