Entrepreneurship and Leadership in Rural Nebraska

Students at Cody-Kilgore High School, Cody, Nebraska (population 149), wanted to start a community-owned grocery store.
The community had been without a store for 10 years, meaning residents traveled 70 miles or more to purchase food. The student's teachers contacted the Center for Rural Affairs, and the idea grew into a student business incubator with a grocery as the flagship business. The Center connected the teachers with an entrepreneurship education specialist, and the school began to integrate an entrepreneurial foundation in their curriculum. The Center helped secure a USDA grant to fund the project with in-kind efforts from teachers and community members.

Students will build a business plan; develop skills in marketing, business transition, facilitation and leadership; and purchase and maintain equipment for the store and business incubator. Training, technical assistance and consultation will be provided by the Center for Rural Affairs.

Youth entrepreneurship is also alive and well in Bancroft, Nebraska (population 520). Bancroft-Rosalie High School participates in Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) program. SAGE includes social enterprise, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, environmental stewardship and the establishment of a student-owned business.

Bancroft-Rosalie students have developed a business called "Paw Prints," an after-school snack shop that also sells merchandise online and at home sporting events. Through SAGE students will gain hands-on experience operating a business from planning phase to business succession.

Projects like these are not only developing future entrepreneurs, they are developing future leaders as well. The kind of leaders rural Nebraska will need in decades to come.

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