LAURINBURG — For next 30 weeks, seven fledgling entrepreneurs will be shown the ropes of business through the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs’ Academy.
Founded in 2011, the academy is beginning its third year, and its new class of students met for the first time on Tuesday at Monroe Camp and Retreat Center in Laurel Hill, getting acquainted with each other through the perilous heights of the high ropes course.
“This is the ‘cool business’ field trip,” said Karla Milholland, program director. “We wanted to do something local, get the kids outdoors, get them involved in doing something that requires teamwork because these kids are going to be working together for the next 30 weeks. What better way to get to know each other than out here in the woods on a ropes course?”
Throughout the course of the program, students will be taught the basics of business ownership, formulate and develop business ideas and plans, and secure funding for their own businesses. Sending the students, all high-school aged, on the ropes course, was the first step toward expanding their estimation of their capabilities. Of the program’s seven students, five completed the course.
“Part of the process is to build confidence for when they get to the place that they’re ready to embark on a business,” said Karen Roche, an accountant who served as the program’s instructor for the first nine weeks.
Several members of the current class hope to develop nonprofit ventures, including Scotland High School sophomore Clifton Murray, who has been inspired by his work with the youth program growingchange.org.
“I have plans to go into marketing, taking local produce and things from local blacksmiths and tradesmen and … selling it to help the older people that actually have these trades who are going out into the sun and trying to sell their products,” said Murray, who plans to direct his proceeds to local charities.
Trejah Bostic, a 10th grade student at Scotland Early College High School, hopes to open a community center in Laurinburg.
“There are a lot of people that I know who have a lot of talent and they’re not using it because they don’t have anything to do or they have nowhere to do it and they’re making bad choices,” she said.
Bostic envisions the center providing free academic tutoring and space for athletic activities.
“I want it really big because I want to do a lot.”