First students experience Junior Achievement's new Biztown space

January 08, 2019 06:24 PM

A 100-year-old building in St. Paul has new life. 

Junior Achievement hosts thousands of elementary students each year, teaching them real-world skills about financial literacy. Their new location means the number of students who attend will now double.

Inside the brand new, state-of-the-art facility, fourth and fifth graders from Highland Park Elementary School are learning about a free-market economy.

Junior Achievement's Biztown teaches students responsibility as a consumer, a worker and a business owner.

"My job is to pay business loans and approve or deny them," said 10-year-old Iman, who served as the CEO for the day of US Bank, one of the 18 shops set up for students.

10-year-old Timothy spent the day leading the radio station. 

"I feel like I could take charge and steer people on the right track if they get off track," he said.

The high-tech space is full of screens, tools and resources from some of the top local industries and professions.

"We really worked closely with our corporate partners to simulate what really happens in their work today," said Gina Blayney, the President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest.

A second lab upstairs means the numbers of students who attend will now double to more than 35,000 students this year.

"It's a dream come true for us," Blayney added.

More from KSTP:

Como Park students strengthen career development skills

Remodeling begins on Junior Achievement Center

Fifth-grade teacher Donna Ryder has been bringing students to Biztown for 17 years.

"The technology is amazing. I just went over to the Polaris company and one of my students was showing me how they could design their own four-wheeler," she explained.

Ryder has no plans to stop sharing the experience with her students.

"It's a great opportunity, a great learning opportunity for them and they will remember it for years to come," she said.

Junior Achievement relies on roughly 10,000 volunteers to implement its programs, mainly business professionals who share their skills and experiences to inspire students.

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Jessica Miles

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