December 12, 2007

Fourth, fifth graders to learn about business world

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Will he be the next Bill Gates or Donald Trump? Will she follow in the footsteps of successful businesswomen like Suze Orman or Mary Kay Ash?

The Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center (SIEC) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is partnering with the Carbondale Elementary School District to give more than 50 fourth and fifth graders a chance to personally experience small business ownership. Beginning in early 2008, the SIEC will work with children from Carbondale's Lewis School Academically Talented program as they develop products and operate their very own small businesses.

The program includes a variety of events to help youngsters along the pathway to entrepreneurial success. For instance, February's etiquette dinner will teach the ins and outs and the dos and don'ts of business dining. An up and coming business entrepreneur from the region will speak, giving the kids a first-hand look at operating a business. The grade-schoolers will even get to design their own logos and business cards at the SIUC College of Business and Administration computer lab.

An international luncheon in April will give a glimpse into the world of global business. International business, foods and customs will be the focus.

And then, there's the ultimate test. Will these young entrepreneurs be able to sell their products? They'll take their products to the Farmer's Market April 26 and see how they do selling their wares. The semester wrap-up includes business plan presentations by the young entrepreneurs to area bankers in May. An awards ceremony will honor the student business leaders for their efforts as well.

"We are pleased to be a partner with Carbondale Elementary Schools to offer this important experience to these students," said Emily Carter, director of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at SIUC. "Introducing students to entrepreneurship at a young age can only foster innovative thinking and stimulate creative ideas that may translate into a successful career."

For more information about the innovative young businessperson program or SIEC, contact the center at 618/453-3805 or look online at