In 2013 more than $4 million was raised at lemonade stands that dotted the Houston, Texas metropolitan area; there were more than 50,000 stands. Those were scattered over the entire 10,000 square mile metropolitan area.

Chip Conrad, a Salem entrepreneur, discovered Lemonade Day thought it would be a success in Keizer and Salem as well.

America was built on the back of small business. Entrepreneurs take risks believing they can realize their dream if they work hard, take responsibility and act as good stewards of their resources. Today’s youth share that optimism, but lack the life skills, mentorship and real-world experience necessary to be successful.  In 2007, founder Michael Holthouse had a vision to empower today’s youth to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs through helping them start, own and operate their very own business…a lemonade stand.

Lemonade Day is a strategic 14-step process that walks youth from a dream to a business plan, while teaching them the same principles required to start any big company. Inspiring kids to work hard and make a profit, they are also taught to spend some, save some and share some by giving back to their community. Launched in Houston, Texas in 2007, Lemonade Day has grown from 2,700 kids in one city to 150,000 kids in 36 cities across America and Canada. With the help of partners like Google, Lemonade Day will bring this entrepreneurial experience to 1 million kids in 100 cities across America, sparking entrepreneurship and empowering youth in a way that’s never been done to scale. Salem and Keizer will be among those 100 cities.

Conrad’s enthusiasm is infectious and his is the perfect leader for our area for Lemonade Day.  The Keizertimes was the first local business to write a check to help support this wonderful project.

Lemonade Day should be seen by parents and middle school students alike as a unique opportunity. This is not the usual fundraiser or plea for money—though the kids who participate will be looking for investors for their individual lemonade stands.

The lessons the kids will learn will be valuable now and as they grow and become active members of the global economy.

I am excited about Lemonade Day and would like to see dozens and dozens of lemonade stands in Keizer on May 4. Kids can start now to experiment with recipes—the fewer stands with powdered lemonade mix the better for all. Imagine getting fresh strawberry lemonade at one stand and then sampling raspberry lemonade at another.

On May 4 all of Keizer should be sure to have lots of pocket money and have an unquenchable thirst. When you buy lemonade from a stand on Lemonade Day you will be teaching that young businessperson important values.

Every middle school student should be encouraged by their parents, guardians and teachers to go into business by themselves, or form a group with a friend or two, devise the best lemonade recipe ever, create an amazing stand, find the best location for sales.  By following the recommended steps for Lemonade Day, hundreds of Keizer kids will turn into successful business people on May 4.

(Lyndon A. Zaitz is editor and publisher of the Keizertimes.)