The Children’s Business Fair, hosted by the Maryville Public Library, will be from 10 am to 1:30 pm, Saturday, March 10 and is free to the public.

There are 28 youth who have created 16 businesses. Children ages eight to 18 were eligible to participate. They will be selling their products during the fair and will be competing for a grand prize.

Each youth had to come up with a feasible business plan. From there, they were required to research their idea, target their customers and devise marketing strategies to drum up customers for their products or services, all without parent involvement or parent promotion. Some of the marketing strategies have included social media pages and contacting local newspaper and radio outlets to promote their businesses.

The young entrepreneurs created a business model including financial information, start-up costs and pricing per unit or hour for their products and services.

They were also required to analyze their projected profit and lay out a plan outlining where the profits would be spent, whether for marketing, back into the business to help it grow, donated to charity or saved for a specific reason.

During one of the workshops, local business owners visited with the youth about their plans, making suggestions and giving advice.

“When the community members came in and assisted the kids with their business plans and challenged them to think about things they may have missed or encouraged them, it was an amazing time. I had so much positive feedback from parents and the community members,” Maryville Public Library Youth Coordinator Elizabeth Argo stated.

The first informational meeting was held in mid-December and the youth have been working to get their businesses up and running.

Argo stated the youth will be judged on the creativity and innovation of their product, marketing strategies, completed business plan, financial strategy, overall table presentation and their “wow-factor.”

Cash prizes will be given for the most original business idea, the highest business potential and the best presentation for each of the four age categories. Youth will receive feedback from the judges to help them learn about their strengths and ways to improve their plans.

“I was excited to take on this project in the beginning, but I’m even more so now as we have moved through the process. The kids have been working hard and showing so much creativity, and the community has expressed their excitement while providing support and involvement. They have just really wrapped their arms around this project,” Argo stated.

After the event, several local businesses have agreed to donate space, allowing the youth to display their products and services for one month. The owners will be attending the fair and listing their top three youth businesses that would be a good match for their store that they would like to showcase. The youth as well will get a chance to list their top three businesses that they would like to be paired with. There are enough sponsors for each youth business to receive the mentoring benefits of the partnerships.

“For those young entrepreneurs who are interested, it is definitely an incentive to have the best product and presentation possible the day of the fair to catch the eye of community business owners,” Argo said.

The library plans to hold the event again next year.

“We hope people will come and not only support our young entrepreneurs, but shop for some quality items,” Argo said.