The Fayetteville Observer
By: Michael Zennie
August 7, 2010
Aug. 07--It's a simple business pitch -- build a ski slope in Fayetteville, run a pack of artificial snow makers on overdrive and charge people $25 a pop to ski down the hill. It's a lot cheaper than flying to Colorado or Utah for a weekend in the mountains.
It's the kind of business plan that a group of middle schoolers would dream up. And in this case, that's exactly what it is.
Sean's Sled Run, as the ski resort would be called, was the brain child of a week's worth of planning and team-building by five seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders who attended the Youth Entrepreneurship Camp at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
Sean Mayers, the namesake of the business, said he was a big fan of the idea because it brings a winter sport to warm North Carolina.
Plus, he said, "it has more excitement to it."
The goal of the camp, said organizer Tamara Bryant, is to teach middle school students what it takes to start and run a business.
The five-day camp included team-building activities and programs that taught the students about finance, marketing and customer service. The end result was a project that allowed the 21 participants on four teams to design a business plan.
Their work culminated in a group presentation Friday to judges and parents, which included a discussion of their business model and a commercial for their enterprise.
Each of the groups received an award from the judges. The manmade ski slope in the Carolinas did not win "most feasible." It did, however, receive "most creative."
Sean's father, Brian Mayers, said he wanted his son to get a taste of what it's like to own a business in the hopes that one day he will make it a reality.
The most feasible business, according to the judges, was the Sweet Tooth Sugar Emporium -- a sweets shop that would rely on foot traffic from the mall and bring back the feel of old-time candy shops.
The business would succeed, reasoned ninth-grader Ana Franzoni, because there weren't many candy stores in Fayetteville. And even in this era of health-conscious consumers, everybody still likes candy, she said.
Judge Charlie Allen, the owner of Two Men and a Truck, said it was clear that the camp had given the teens a good idea of just how complicated and difficult it is to run a business.
However, the concept of working with limited resources was still largely lost on them, said Todd Lyden of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce said.