Southeast business school starts entrepreneur program

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in Southeast Missouri State University's Harrison College of Business plans to launch a program aimed at promoting entrepreneurial education among the state's grade-school students and teachers.

Developed by the center's director, James Stapleton, the Missouri Rural Entrepreneurial through Action Learning program will allow elementary and high school students in the region an opportunity to study innovative and enterprising business concepts. The first of its kind in the state, the program will begin with area schools and eventually expand to other institutions in the state.

Five classroom teachers from Southeast will serve as facilitators of the program. In late June, they are scheduled to train at North Carolina REAL Enterprises, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing entrepreneurship and small business creation to the state.

Upon completion of the training, the facilitators will spend a year recruiting applicants. The facilitators will also train participants in the Missouri REAL Entrepreneurship Institute, planned for June 2009.

The program's goal is to enhance economic and global competitiveness in Missouri.

"The Missouri REAL Entrepreneurship program will inspire and train students to reach beyond simple service business concepts and provide them tools to create and lead enterprises that make significant long-term contributions to the regional economy," Stapleton said. "While the lemonade stand served to plant the entrepreneurial seed in many of us in the past, we think this more advanced programming is needed to prepare our young people for the new economy."

Through the program, elementary students will create an in-school community with an entrepreneurial sector that addresses community needs. High school students will create a small business of their own, with assistance from community team members who serve as mentors and advisers.

The hands-on curriculum includes nearly 200 group and individual activities that teachers could incorporate into their classrooms.

Stapleton said the idea has been discussed since last year. After researching more about the REAL program that is taught in 43 states, Southeast partnered with North Carolina REAL Enterprises.

"This provides a long-term entrepreneurial culture that we hope will help the students make a difference in the economic climate of Missouri," Stapleton said. "And it all starts with young people. That's what Southeast Missouri State is all about."

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