Attendees will be asked to follow IDPH COVID19 protocols
By ARIANA R. CHERRY
Business development is important for our economy – without new businesses, an economy cannot sustain itself. New businesses keep a growing world fresh with new ideas and opportunities. It is especially important to encourage this type of thinking and to educate young minds who have an interest for business. Here in the ALAH school district, we have the means to create a learning atmosphere with business-like minds through the Illini Prairie CEO Class.
The mission of the Illini Prairie CEO Class is “to prepare our youth to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to the economic development and sustainability of Douglas County.”
Throughout the program year, students have visited local businesses, heard from guest speakers, participated in operating a class business, wrote a business plan, and, from concept to reality, built their own legal, functioning entity. There were thirteen students from the school communities of ALAH, Tuscola, Arcola and Sullivan that participated in this year’s CEO course. Ultimately, this program has guided each team member through starting and running their own functioning business, all while cultivating essential skills and an expansive, long-lasting network of community members and business owners.
The Illini Prairie CEO Board of Directors will be hosting the Illini Prairie Trade Show on Wednesday, May 12 from 5 – 7 pm in the Arcola High School Gym located in Arcola. At this event, this year’s class of high school students that were part of the Illini Prairie CEO class will be displaying and presenting on the businesses they have developed as part of this course. For a peak into this year’s trade show, we had the opportunity to interview three students who will be taking part in this fantastic opportunity.
“The CEO class is an amazing opportunity to get out of the classroom and transition from high school to college while learning several business skills along the way,” quoted student, Coen Foster. “Everyone has grown so much through this class whether that means they are more confident talking to people they have not met before or learning how to start and run a business as well as many other things,” he added. At first, Coen was not planning on entering business, as the CEO class was not offered at Sullivan until this past year. His initial plan was to go into the medical field, but once this class was offered and he participated, Coen made the decision to go into business. His business that he developed this year is a phone screen repair service called “Destroyed and Desperate.” “I plan to run my own business after graduating college whether this one or a different one,” Coen stated. His favorite part about CEO was pitching his business to bankers to receive funding and then starting his own business.
“The CEO class has prepared me for life such as putting me in situations that challenge me. These aren’t your normal high school situations. Some of the CEO situations are the following: how to start a business, how to write up a business plan, introducing yourself to people, looking people in the eye when you talk to them, and just normal thinking ahead type situations,” said student Aiden Beachy. Aiden’s business is “Beachy’s Detailing” where he will be cleaning the interior and exterior of cars. “I plan on running my own business in the near future. My dream is to become a CEO of a big corporation,” Aiden said. He has had an interest in business during the start of his junior year in high school. Aiden said a former student of the class and a good friend of his, Jake Reed,” actually suggested that he join the class. Aiden explained how taking the class has helped him socially. “Before CEO I was a very shy, quiet person. I also never imagined I would use my email. Now I believe I am one of the most outspoken kids in my school and my emailing skills are 10 times better than they were in the past,” he said. “CEO is a really good experience for any individual, no matter your background. You will be a different man/woman at the end of the year. My advice is to get out of your comfort zone, and to put yourself in the position of failure, because when there’s failure there’s progress and in progress there is success,” Aiden concluded.
Student Krish Patel is venturing into online retail as a result of the CEO class. “My business is called “Finest Home Goods”. It’s a website that has over 50 home goods items. I add more and more home goods every week. I also update my clients with sales that I have going and also when I add new items to my website,” he explained. Krish plans on continuing with his business and expanding in the future with more businesses. “The CEO class prepared me for starting my business and I have already done that but I’m not going to stop there. In the future I want to start more businesses and be a CEO of a really major company. This class has put me in situations that I would’ve never thought of,” he said. It helps you learn about business life at a young age so that means that you can start your own business really early. I think the only thing you really need to have is confidence, if you have that then you can do any task that the facilitator asks you to do,” Krish concluded.
There are many talented students who are waiting to showcase their businesses at this year’s Illini Prairie Trade Show on Wednesday, May 12 from 5 – 7 pm in the Arcola High School Gym. Just like any other trade show, individuals attending the shows will have the opportunity to buy products, sign up for services and book appointment times with the owners at each booth.
The CEO class must follow IDPH protocols and therefore, there will be a few additional requirements when attending the event. First, no one should attend the event if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Second, masks must be worn at all times. Finally, there will be a limitation on the number of customers that will be able to visit a booth at one time. Some customers may be delayed slightly depending on the number of customers at any one time.