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Conference gives teen girls primer on business basics

| Tuesday, March 6, 2007

This goes beyond balancing a checkbook.

More than 100 local girls at a Chatham College conference today will get to quiz top female business owners about how to start a company, manage their money and become financially independent.

"So many young women don't realize what's available to them, especially when they're 17 or 18 and they're forced to pick what they want to do with their life," said Carol Hurley, owner of Hurley Associates, a local insurance and financial-services agency.

Maria Kovalchuk, 14, a ninth-grader at the Ellis School in Shadyside, attended the Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Conference.

Kovalchuk and a friend organized a youth field hockey league in Edgewood for kids ages 6-10 last year. She said they had to work with their school and companies to secure hockey equipment.

"It was a lot of work, negotiating," she said. "In the future, I want to have the business knowledge to communicate with people to make the process smoother."

Kovalchuk plans to have the league in the spring, as well.

"These young girls are the hope of reviving the Pittsburgh area as they create roots here as aspiring business owners," said Joanne Quinn Smith, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, which is co-hosting the event.

Almost 64.3 percent of businesses in Pennsylvania are majority-owned by men, compared with 27.6 percent owned by women, according to the Center for Women's Business Research.

During the interactive conference, the girls also will play a entrepreneurial board game called "Hot Company" and will have a chance to design a product and present a marketing plan for it.

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