CEO students to launch businesses

<p class="p1">What do a horse, a box of old curling pictures, and mascara have in common?  </p><p class="p1">These are just some of the items featured by the new Union County CEO businesses.</p><p class="p1">With two thirds of the year behind them, Union County CEO team members – juniors and seniors selected from Union County high schools – are about to launch their own businesses. </p><p class="p1">Some will be showing their products and services at the Union County Business Expo, which is scheduled on April 9; all will be at the CEO Trade Show at the Dunn-Richmond Center at Southern Illinios University Carbondale on April 28.  </p><p class="p1">Many local business people and community leaders have led by example in the birth of these new businesses.  </p><p class="p1">As of March 1, the students have visited 48 businesses, have heard 19 speakers and have had 39 visitors.  </p><p class="p1">Among those visitors are eight business mentor volunteers specifically assigned to have weekly contact with their protégés.  </p><p class="p1">That “visitor” number also includes 16 local professionals who will have reviewed the 6- to 10-page business plans before CEO team members meet one on one with the loan committee to borrow up to $300 from the money they earned with the class business.</p><p class="p1">The mentors, speakers, business owners and visitors have all generously given of their time to be the teachers.  This kind of community investment is exactly what will make Union County CEO a long term success.</p><p class="p1">Students have been helped in some way by every guest, including modeling the personality traits of good leaders like fairness, appreciation, vision, passion, knowledge, integrity, sincerity and high expectations.  </p><p class="p1">From others they have learned specific skills in written, verbal and electronic communication; marketing; financial considerations; and presentation of self with body language, voice and professional attire.  </p><p class="p1">Still others have shared their stories of courage and risk, with unlikely paths to success while overcoming failure.  </p><p class="p1">Every person they have met has offered assistance in the future – that is well over 100 adults that the young entrepreneurs can call upon in the future.</p><p class="p1">Students have met from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. every school day all school year, always in a business. </p><p class="p1">The inaugural year of Union County CEO has also included three all-day field trips for experiences not available locally, and several meetings with local business groups such as the Union County Women in Business and the Union County Chamber of Commerce.  </p><p class="p1">Union County CEO is completely funded by donations from businesses, individuals and organizations.  </p><p class="p1">Under the direction of the advisory board made up of local leaders, the Union County CEO Program partners with Union County high schools so that juniors and seniors selected for the program earn two high school credits.</p><p class="p1">The ultimate goal is to help these young people to reach their full potential as adults in whatever business they choose to be involved with and to encourage them to return to Union County and our region as future leaders.</p><p class="p1">For more information, like  Union County CEO on Facebook, follow @unioncountyceo on Twitter or go to</p><p class="p1">(Editor's note: The accompanying article and photograph were provided by Union County CEO program chairman Rollie Hawk.)</p><p class="p2"> </p>

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