Call it a sign of the times: Before they could announce the launch of the fifth annual Lemonade Day Louisiana, an 8-year-old girl asked the group of local business leaders on hand Tuesday if she needs to collect sales tax on each drink she sells.

Answer: No.

That’s one less thing to worry about for the estimated 18,000 kids who are expected to participate in the statewide initiative May 2.

Lemonade Day is a free community effort underway in at least two dozen states designed to introduce children to entrepreneurship through the experience of running their own small business: a lemonade stand.

They’re given a free backpack with detailed workbooks that offer marketing tips and advice to help them get started.

The goal: to get the kids to spend a little, save a little and share a little, the last part by encouraging participants to donate some of their earnings to charity. After covering their overhead, the budding capitalists are encouraged to open a savings account.

So far, Lemonade Day 2015 has lined up more than 29 corporate sponsors, including The Advocate.

Local business leaders, including John Georges, CEO of Georges Enterprises and publisher and CEO of The Advocate, were on hand to show their support at the statewide kickoff at the Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans offices.

Georges and Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, introduced the national program to Louisiana in 2010.

Young Louisiana entrepreneurs first participated in Lemonade Day in 2011.

Donny Rouse, managing partner of Rouses Supermarkets; Ashton Ryan Jr., president and CEO of First NBC Bank; and former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister also were on hand, as well as cheerleaders from the Saints and Pelicans, Sir Saint and his friend Gumbo the Dog.

“It’s not going to be perfect. There will be mistakes, but you have to keep pushing through it,” McAllister told the dozen kids in the crowd, who were largely gathered behind prop lemonade stands.

Selling lemonade has been a way for generations of children to make an early entry into the business world, said Pamela Kennett-Hensel, who chairs the management and marketing department at the University of New Orleans.

Many key lessons that can be taken from managing a lemonade stand — such as leadership, responsibility and working with others — can put kids “on the right path in general,” she said.

“I think it’s just important for kids to learn how to set goals and work to achieve those goals,” she said. “Whether it’s setting up a lemonade stand or deciding they want to go to college or they want to be an astronaut or they want to be a doctor, they need to know how to set goals and to achieve those goals.”

Registration is free and open online at louisiana.lemonade

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.