Lemonade Day gives boost to young entrepreneurs

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Summer is still months away, but young entrepreneurs in Kalispell are already getting started on lemonade stands.

The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce is bringing the national program Lemonade Day to Kalispell this summer to teach business skills to children through the concept of the lemonade stand, a long-held icon of childhood entrepreneurship.

Lemonade Day is a nationwide initiative where students in elementary and middle school partner with mentors and local community members to develop a lemonade stand and learn entrepreneurship along the way.

Lemonade Day will be held on June 13 this year in Kalispell. The call to sign up will go out to participants around the end of February, and there will be educational sessions in April and May.

“We’re so excited for this program,” said Kate Lufkin with the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce. Kalispell is the first Montana city to host the event.

Lemonade Day started in Houston, Texas, 10 years ago and has since expanded to more than 80 cities across the country.

The program requires participating students — usually from about first to seventh grade — to work with adult mentors to come up with business plans and solicit investments for their lemonade stands. On the day of the event, the children compete for awards like the best decorated stand and the best-tasting lemonade.

Children and their mentors go through lessons in preparation for Lemonade Day to learn business principals and develop their vision.

“It puts the kid at the center of being a small business owner,” Lufkin explained. “They learn the same business principles, just in a smaller, condensed format.”

The best part, Lufkin said, is the participants get to keep all of their earnings—except for the debt they owe to their investors. On average, Lemonade Day participants make about $200 in profit, and the event is free to participate.

“It’s really, really neat to be able to share with students how to make their own money and take control of their life,” Lufkin noted.

Participants are encouraged to spend some of their earnings, save some and donate some back to the community.

“It’s a way to encourage that social responsibility,” Lufkin said. Children get an early chance to “engage and support the community you live in.”

She said the Chamber decided to bring the event to Kalispell to address workforce development issues starting at a young age.

“It’s a fantastic fit,” Lufkin said. “There’s no focus on elementary schools [in the valley]. That’s a vital component of workforce development.”

She pointed out staffing challenges are one of the most pressing and widespread issues that valley businesses currently face, so the Chamber sees Lemonade Day as one way to address this problem early on.

She said Lemonade Day has also proven to have other benefits in the communities where it has been implemented. Lufkin said according to Gallup Polls, communities see a 1% increase in youth entrepreneurship through introductions like Lemonade Day, along with a 2% decrease in the local poverty.

“It has a huge impact across the country,” she said.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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