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Minnesota Wizard creates business directory to raise funds for schools

A three-year-old Silver Bay company is basing its business plan on the idea that helping school organizations can also be good for business. Minnesota Wizard was founded by Floyd Baker and Tom Mealey to create an online directory that offered bus...

A three-year-old Silver Bay company is basing its business plan on the idea that helping school organizations can also be good for business.
Minnesota Wizard was founded by Floyd Baker and Tom Mealey to create an online directory that offered businesses a better way to advertise on the Internet. As efforts progressed, the pair realized an opportunity that could raise money for schools throughout the entire state. They dubbed their new program Earning and Learning.
The new program's approach was to harness the energy of a force of young people eager to raise funds for their school organizations.
"To me, the whole thing is really amazing. We can see it works really well for the businesses and the schools. We can't find a single roadblock," Baker said.
Since starting the fund-raiser with Minnesota Wizard, the M Club at Silver Bay has raised $1,840. Twelve students working for 12 hours were able to capture that revenue for the M Club in the first year. Each subsequent year, the M Club will receive $1,080 without taking any further action.
To date, high schools in Silver Bay, Grand Marais and Two Harbors are working with Minnesota Wizard. In February, the company will conduct a statewide blitz with numerous high schools.
"It's good for businesses, it's good for schools, it's good for Internet users," Baker said.
Ambitious projections show the concept earning millions of dollars each year for schools if all Minnesota counties and the businesses in them participate in the program.
Minnesota Wizard, along with Sawtooth Computers, designed the program which calls for school organizations to contact businesses to offer them the opportunity to be in the Online Business Directory at http://www.minnesotawizard.com . Minnesota Wizard donates 65 percent of the listing fees to the school organization. In addition, the school organization will receive 45 percent of any renewal fee in the years to come, creating a continual income for school organizations.
The Web site lists businesses' information including their e-mail addresses and provides a mini Web site as another way for someone to contact or find information about the businesses that are listed.
By selling the online directory, students are gaining business experience, Mealey and Baker said.
"Students must contact business owners, managers or other personnel authorized to make advertising decisions and propose the Earning and Learning program to them. This builds community skills, sales experience and encourages responsible behavior," they said.
Baker said the program is designed to provide schools with a continual source of funding. He said that early projections show that phase one of the Earning and Learning program could raise some $1 million each year for Minnesota schools statewide. The second phase of their plan is projected to raise $4.1 million yearly for Minnesota schools. And a third phase divided into two parts is planned to raise an additional $3.75 million in part one and $11.25 million yearly in part two. Long term estimates expect to raise a total of $15.35 million a year for Minnesota Schools, and roughly $146 million divided up among other states' schools in the nation.

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