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Young entrepreneurs raise money at state fair
By qwong@statesmanjournal.com, (503) 399-6694 or follow at twitter.com/QWongSJ.

Jacob Schroeder has a fanny pack full of cash, an alien bean bag toss game, a row of prizes and balloons ready to be twisted Monday at the Oregon State Fair.

At $2 for a can of Coke, the 14-year-old also boasts that he sells the cheapest sodas in the entire fair.

“We thought that the state fair would be a good place where a lot of people are coming and gravitating because it’s just one of the biggest fairs in Oregon,” said Schroeder, who lives in Hillsboro. “It’s a great place to go and see if we can make money to reach our goal.”

Schroeder’s goal is to raise a few thousand dollars, enough to purchase a plane ticket to Japan to visit an international exchange student he hosted last summer.

He started a balloon twisting company called Imagine Balloons after his friend, Shohta, was diagnosed with leukemia.

Wearing a balloon hat, Schroeder says he can make anything out of balloons — a fish on a fishing pole, bees and snakes with facial features. Automobiles are the exception, a skill he’s working on perfecting.

While many kids at the fair are zipping through carnival rides and gulping down deep-fried food, about two dozen children at the Pavilion are learning about entrepreneurship.

The youth marketplace is part of the Innovative Kids of America Project, which stemmed from the children’s book series “How to Become an Entrepreneurial Kid” by Dianne Linderman.

As part of the project, kids come up with their own product to sell. They’re provided with an 8-foot table, backdrop and a spot to sell their merchandise on the fair grounds.

Gags and pranks, candy and jewelry are just some of the items sold by the young entrepreneurs.

Melody Boyer, a manager at Innovative Kids of America, said that kids are naturally entrepreneurs.

“It’s taking that lemonade stand on the corner and taking that to the next level,” she said.

Her son Shane is selling marshmallow guns in the Pavilion.

“You never know what’s going to spark a child and we want to encourage that,” she said.

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