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Building business: Young entrepreneurs showcased at CEO event

Amber Moen operates her very own custom blanket making business. She has been in business for two years. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal1 / 6
Moen specializes in tie blankets. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal2 / 6
Cindi Koll, Central MN Class Facilitator, oversaw the showcase. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal3 / 6
Jayson Young is the owner of Cat Entertainment Systems and he spends his time constructing unique cat trees. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal4 / 6
Jaron Englund had many interested parties checking out his bath bombs. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal5 / 6
After taking a course in digital photography, Nicholas Johnson realized he had a passion for still photography. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal6 / 6

The Central Minnesota CEO Trade Show presented several newly formulated area businesses. This event is unique because it focuses on the businesses started by young entrepreneurs, specifically high school students from rural areas. The end goal of the program is to educate the youth on the rewarding path to starting a business while contributing to the economic growth of the region.

The event was held at Massconi's in Verndale with seven businesses displaying services. Blankets, cat trees, bath bombs, and painting tools filled the room with onlookers and potential customers asking a bevy of questions. Cindi Koll, Central MN CEO class facilitator, observed her business savvy students from afar while mingling with guests. She explained that CEO is an opportunity for students to learn the many steps of starting a business, the majority of which, wouldn't be learned until adulthood. The importance of marketing, accounting, and creating a desirable product were pillars of their training during the last nine months.

Amber Moen had tie blankets spread out over a table. The carefully crafted blankets feature playful patterns and eye catching designs. She is in the second year of operating her business, "All Tied Together." Moen stated that the most difficult part of owning a business involves gaining new customers but also explained that being in control of the business from the ground up is very rewarding. When asked for advice for other young people interested in starting a business, she said, "Don't give up, it will come eventually."

At a center table sat Jaron Englund, the owner of "JaBomb." His business is devoted to the creation and sale of bath bombs. "If you need an explosion for your tub, I'm your guy," said Englund. After learning how to produce his products online he set out to make his own, a task that proved challenging at first. He explained that in order to make a good bath bomb you have to get the perfect consistency by using several ingredients. He urged potential entrepreneurs to seek out information from already established business owners.

Cat Entertainment Systems takes the construction of cat trees to a whole new level. From simple builds, to converting an actual tree into a playground for kitties, Jayson Young can do it all. His business is in its first year and he works on small orders to custom. A smaller tree can take around five to six hours. He stated that the hardest part of owning a business can be attributed to advertising.

NMJ photography had framed pictures on display and business cards at the ready. Not too far from the display was the photographer himself, Nicholas Johnson. His business is brand new. After taking a digital photography class, he set out to start is own imaging business. He's even taken some senior pictures recently. Johnson enjoys the freedom of running a business but doesn't care too much for deadlines. Johnson enjoys landscape photography and portraits.

The CEO Trade Show is the culmination of many months of hard work. The class toured 40 businesses within central Minnesota, solicited sponsorships, networked, and started their own small businesses. Additionally, the group conducted "Ham Bingo," as a special event.