As the mayor of Woodstock, and Woodstock’s former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, I have had the honor of serving our families in two elected roles that are (very intentionally) part-time. In my opinion, citizen-legislators and citizen-mayors make for better public servants. Keeping these roles part-time (and paying commensurately) ensures we truly are represented by our neighbors and peers.
That means legislators and mayors need to make their living apart from their official roles, though, and I have spent the majority of my private sector career as an entrepreneur.
In 2011, I was part of the founding team of Python Safety, a safety equipment company that we built from scratch in Woodstock, and ultimately was acquired by 3M. In 2017, David Leggett and I started Black Airplane, a custom application development company, which currently employs nearly 30 full time in downtown Woodstock.
The adventure of building a company from scratch always has been a passion of mine, and I’m fortunate to have seen success creating jobs that have benefitted dozens of families in our city. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity when the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce asked me to be the Woodstock City Champion for Lemonade Day, a national movement focused on teaching students in grades 3-5 the importance of entrepreneurship and the practical skills they need to engage with it.
I’m proud to chair and serve as a mentor in the North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service, an MIT-trained Cherokee Office of Economic Development initiative focused on active mentoring for adult entrepreneurs kicking off new ventures. And, if we can instill these principles in kids who still are developing their perspective on individual responsibility, budgeting and investment, we can set up the next generation of business leaders with an incredible competitive advantage.
According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for more than 64% of new jobs created in this country. Entrepreneurship is critically important to the American way of life, and there is little more important that we can focus on teaching our next generation.
Lemonade Day will be Aug. 6 at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Recreation and Parks building, 7545 Main St., in Woodstock. The event is free, and will teach our community’s kids how to start, own and operate their own business with a lemonade stand.
Each child who is registered will receive access to the Lemonade Day curriculum, which teaches lessons such as creating budgets, setting profit-making goals, serving customers, repaying investors and giving back to the community. Along the way, they will acquire skills in goal setting and problem solving, as well as gain self-esteem critical for future success. Participants keep all the money they make and are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some.
You can register your child for this fantastic opportunity at https://lemonadeday.org/cherokee-county. I am proud to live in a place that prizes entrepreneurship, individual responsibility and preparing our children for an even better tomorrow. With programs like these, and so many of the initiatives we’ve built together, we’re sure to leave an even stronger Woodstock for our next generation to inherit.
— Mayor Michael Caldwell
– Michael Caldwell is the 31st mayor of Woodstock, a retired state legislator, member of the Georgia Technology Authority, partner at Black Airplane, husband to Katie, and father to Oliver, Elizabeth and Charlotte.
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