It was no Emmy Award, but "Dublin Apprentice" received honors last week.

It was no Emmy Award, but “Dublin Apprentice” received honors last week.

The 2-year-old entrepreneur camp for middle school students on Sept. 20 received the “Excellence in Economic Development” award in the entrepreneurship category from the International Economic Development Council.

“We recognize the city of Dublin for providing successful strategies to promote new standards in economic development in this period of global recovery,” Dennis Coleman, IEDC chair, said in a press release. “Our awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in communities. They demonstrate that they are at the forefront of the economic development profession and are using innovative and effective practices that can be replicated in other communities.”

The award came as a surprise, especially for a relatively young program, said Dana McDaniel, economic development director and deputy city manager.

“The idea is to try to get youth involved in the idea of entrepreneurship and then combine that with a summer camp,” McDaniel said. “I’ve been impressed by the level of innovation and ideas and just pure intelligence that these young people have displayed and (they) even have a passion for wanting to create a new idea. It’s kind of surprising.”

The three-week entrepreneur camp at the Dublin Entrepreneur Center for middle school students began in 2010 with 23 students who learned about developing a sustainable idea and creating a business. Coffman High School teacher Bryan Arnold leads the program.

“The program is a completely different program from year to year,” recreation supervisor Scott Hanks said. “What we do is, we staff the program and facilitate it, but it’s really based on what businesses help us out and volunteer with this program.”

Entrepreneurs will talk to camp participants about struggles, successes and experiences, Hanks said. Trips to businesses yield a more hands-on lesson.

“They visit facilities and travel around central Ohio,” Hanks said. “The kids are given hands-on challenges. As they grow and learn and develop skills, they’re (also) with a core group and developing their own business. In the beginning, they’re brainstorming an idea, researching, looking at competition.”

Social Boomerang founder and CEO Sandy Blanquera taught the students about social media, and Rick Copland of TechColumbus offered a lesson on technology.

“Business leaders get involved in the program so kids can go out and see the business and see how it works,” McDaniel said. “I think that is one of the key dynamics that make the program so exciting.”

Students must apply for Dublin Apprentice, which accepts 20 students per year. Hanks said about eight students returned for a second year this summer.

The program eventually might be expanded, he said.

“The main goal was to really look at the middle school group. That was the first group, and we know those ages and work with them for other programs,” Hanks said. “But we really want to step up and work with high school students, adults, families, baby boomers. It’s something we want to develop in a correct way to get good participation.”

McDaniel said he favors expanding entrepreneur training to other ages.

“To get retirees involved in the same kind of program would be great,” he said. “Retirees have been there and done that. I think they have a lot of ideas. We could have a blend of youth and retirees.”