Readin', Writin', and Relocatin'

Three Tennessee teens are taking a high school marketing project into the big leagues as they try to attract a pro baseball team to their town

Back-to-school for student entrepreneurs means checking out school-based business programs, including DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and Junior Achievement Inc.

And for three high school students from Hendersonville, Tenn., it also means helping the local Chamber of Commerce by conducting a feasibility study on attracting AAA baseball to their town. Hendersonville's Beech High School DECA students Lori Lawson, Jacob Simmons, and Elizabeth Yarbrough have volunteered to survey residents in an effort to find out whether they would support a move to town by the Nashville Sounds.

The three students have made the campaign to attract the baseball team as their creative marketing project -- a nine-month effort. Their research will go into a 30-page paper and an oral presentation at the end of the year. The first practice session will be at a Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where they plan to share their initial findings.


  John Pennington, the chamber's executive director, says any light the students can shed on the level of public interest in pursuing the baseball team will be worthwhile. The city plans to submit a proposal to the Sounds this week, although Pennington adds that any final moves to attract the team will probably be made by Sumner County, which oversees economic development in the area. The Sounds have been looking at their options in nearby communities after failing to convince Nashville to use sales taxes to build them a new stadium.

Regardless of whether the effort is successful, Pennington says it is always helpful to have members of the public high schools' DECA clubs helping out the local businesses. Another group of students is currently researching the needs of the region's commuters.

DECA and Junior Achievement programs aim to teach and inspire students who have an interest in business. And, as John Pennington tells it, the town's students are working on the same ideas as the town's business owners. "Surveying the public interest," says Pennington, is "what we always need to know."

For more information about student business programs, you can contact your local schools or:

Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) Established to help students develop skills and competence in marketing, management and entrepreneurship.

Junior Achievement Inc. Created to educate and inspire young people from kindergarten through grade 12 to value and understand free enterprise, business and economics.

By Robin J. Phillips in New York