Several students enrolled in a “Start Your Own Business” class at Waconia High School were guests of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce last Thursday to share their learnings and experience.

The class, done in tandem with six local business partners, is intended to provide an authentic business experience and build entrepreneurial knowledge and sprit within students, according to Christine Fenner, business relationship consultant for Waconia schools. (See Feb. 13, 2019 Waconia Patriot)

The six businesses included Everson’s Hardware, Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, The Stash, Waconia Food Shelf, Waconia Performing Arts Center and Safari Island.

At the luncheon students explained what they did with their assigned business in terms of conducting competitive and financial analyses, customer surveys and developing marketing plans.

“This is the closest to being real young entrepreneurs that our students get,” said instructor Lee Moen. “The beauty of the project is to see lightbulbs pop on with the kids and enable them to see an issue from a business owner’s perspective.” said instructor Lee Moen.

Students at the lunch said they also appreciated the opportunity, as well as the chance to get outside the classroom and visit local businesses.

“I applaud the school district for making a connection to the business community,” Chamber president Kellie Sites said at the luncheon. “It helps teachers teach business better, students learn business, and a class like this helps local businesses directly.”

“There have been a lot of businesses involved and it’s great to see ideas coming to life,” Fenner added.

Some of the outcomes from the last term included a “lake life” T-shirt project to gain greater visibility for The Stash women’s clothing store; a presence on Instagram for the Waconia Food Shelf; more events to draw the community to Everson’s Hardware; and a plan to possibly offer smoothies at Safari Island Community Center.

“It’s been a great business opportunity to partner with these kids,” said Stash owner Summer Jensen. “What they gave me is basically thousands of dollars in free market research and some very candid views on what I can do to improve my business and draw more young people to it.”

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