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Girls Mean Business a way of fostering entrepreneurial spirit

SPENCER — The new effort to encourage Rowan County to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit that started businesses like Food Lion and Cheerwine has trickled down to high school sophomores.
During a unique entrepreneurship camp last week dubbed Girls Mean Business, a dozen rising 10th-grade girls mostly from the north Rowan area moved into Hotel Salisbury and spent three days fueling the spark that could one day launch dream businesses like a doggy daycare or indoor go-kart track.
The girls came up with business plans, designed websites and logos, created a budget and devised a marketing strategy, all with the help of mentors from local businesses.
Mandy Mills, the lead career development coordinator for Rowan-Salisbury Schools, won a grant from the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation to help pay for the camp that, thanks to the funding, cost each camper only $25.
The soon-to-be sophomores worked through modules including website and logo design, publications, spreadsheets and budgets, then worked in groups to create a marketing plan for a business that would benefit the Spencer area.
They had help understanding their market. Spencer Town Manager Larry Smith, Kristen Trexler, who is the marketing manager for the Salisbury-Rowan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Jessica Gaskill, the marketing specialist for RowanWorks Economic Development, provided demographic and community information to the girls at the beginning of the camp to help them decide on a business.
Daytime instruction was done at North Rowan High School. The girls had fun at night with a movie, bowling and a special dinner at Outback on the final evening.
Four groups with three girls each had a college counselor and a business mentor. Three teachers provided instruction, and Mills served as camp director.
The campers weren’t the only ones who learned something. Dr. Cyndi Osterhus, a consultant and previous Catawba College faculty, provided team-building for campers but also staff development for teachers and counselors.
Deborah Dixon and Kathryn Vanderslice from North Rowan and Colleen Young from Jesse Carson High School were the camp teachers.
Check out these business ideas:
• SLJ Bakery
Campers Sarah Brady, Lauren Wilsey, Janiah Hall.
Counselor Shontel Wilson, Johnson & Wales University
Mentor Ellen Robertson, Fisher Realty
• Paws Doggy Daycare
Campers Ashlyn Mills, Mia Thompson, Brianna White
Counselor Fayeleesa Shropshire, UNC-Greensboro
Mentor Jill Lentz, Origami Owl Jewelry
• Something Sweet Frozen Yogurt
Campers Chevy Blaire, Kaylin Maxwell, Maixe Vang
Counselor Catherine Crawford UNC-Greensboro
Mentor Sheena Picket, Alphamale Nail
• Rowan Racing
Campers Ava Drexel, Payton Russell, Olivia Wilsey
Counselor Kayla Ellis East Carolina University
Mentor Maia Smith, Maia’s Fashions
The teams made their final presentations Thursday at the hotel for their parents, mentors, business leaders and Fateama Fulmore, principal of North Rowan.
Who knows? In about eight years when these girls graduate from college, maybe you will be able to drop off your dog at daycare so you can drive go-karts before noshing on froyo and fresh pastries.

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