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Blake Minge earns $40,000 entrepreneurial scholarship

Perham High School senior Blake Minge was recently selected for a $40,000 scholarship from the McKelvey Foundation.

This is a national scholarship awarded to young entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses. The scholars are awarded up to $10,000 per year to attend any four-year college within the United States.

Blake Minge, son of Brenda Minge and the late Charles Minge, plans to attend the University of North Dakota and double major in Computer Information Systems and Business.

Ever since August of 2005, the now 18-year-old Blake has co-owned The Cactus, along with his mother Brenda. The Cactus, located just south of Perham, features a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, and an event center.

According to the McKelvey Foundation's website, winners of the Entrepreneurial Scholarships will enjoy being part of a larger entrepreneurial networking community and will be given the opportunity to meet with other scholars during a summer e-Venture program. The 2009 e-Venture program is scheduled in St. Louis, MO.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, applicants are required to: be a graduating senior of a U.S. high school or home-school program, attend an accredited four-year college or university within the 50 United States, own and operate a business for at least one year (non-profits are included), have at least one paid employee (not including himself/herself or partner), and have sales revenue (unless non-profit).

According to Minge, the most employees The Cactus has on its payroll at any given time is 36--a substantially higher number than the one paid employee required to be eligible for the scholarship.

Minge says he first heard about the scholarship when he was given a brochure about it at the high school.

"I was narrowed down from 4,000 applicants to 120," he explains of the competitive scholarship selection process. "Then they narrowed it down to the 60 winners."

In order to select the final 60 winners from the 120, Minge says the foundation conducted telephone interviews with the applicants. A representative from the foundation spent about a half hour on the phone with him discussing in detail his business and future plans.

Andy McKelvey, a successful entrepreneur and creator of the McKelvey Foundation, was quoted as saying he "knows what it is to dream big - to have the vision, creativity and drive to convert a new idea into a thriving business."

Knowing what it takes to make those dreams a reality, he started funding the Entrepreneurial Scholarships to help encourage young business owners and ease the burden of debt many students face after graduating from college.