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Local Editorials

CEO program will help students think differently

A partnership by local agencies and businesses will bring a new entrepreneurial education program to the Sauk Valley. We encourage high school students and their parents to embrace the opportunity.

An incredible opportunity for high school juniors and seniors across the Sauk Valley will come knocking this fall. We urge local students to stand ready to open the door.

We speak of the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program, which gives students a crash course in how businesses operate and how they might own one, or even start one, themselves.

Along the way, students will learn more about the entrepreneurial opportunities in their own communities. Students who have taken the course in Effingham say that after college, they are much more likely to return to their communities to work or start businesses of their own.

And isn’t that what we want and need in the Sauk Valley? Local high schools do their best to educate our young men and women, but without enough jobs and career opportunities here, too many of those young people move away, never to return.

The CEO program is designed to change that.

This fall, 20 to 25 juniors and seniors will be accepted into the class, which will be administered by the Whiteside Area Career Center in Sterling.

Those students will spend the year visiting about 20 businesses to learn how they operate. They will learn directly from business leaders, as well as from a teacher whose salary will be partly paid for through donations from local businesses.

Students will study business concepts and create three business plans. The whole exercise is designed to help them think like entrepreneurs.

The knowledge those students receive in just one year would have taken them many years to acquire on their own. Possessing that know-how at such a young age will be an incredible advantage.

What future awaits them will be up to the ingenuity, talent and drive of the CEO graduates. We think that future will be much brighter because of the strong foundation upon which it will be built.

Along with local businesses that invested in the program, participating students will have WACC, the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, and the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship to thank. The Institute is funded by Midland States Bank of Effingham, which operates banks in our region.

To us, an appealing part of the CEO program class will be its availability to students from across the region, not just from Sterling. Students from the 18 high schools served by WACC will be eligible to apply.

The executive director of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship is Craig Lindvahl, a teacher himself and one of the driving forces behind CEO.

“This is the right idea and the right place, and it’s the right time, and I couldn’t be more excited for your whole area that this is coming,” Lindvahl said.

A video that describes the CEO program can be viewed on the WACC website.

We’ve mentioned previously our belief that people in the Sauk Valley need to think differently in order to chart a better future. The CEO program offers young people a valuable opportunity to do just that.

We encourage students and their parents to find out more about the CEO program and start thinking now about whether it would be right for them.

Then, reach out and open that door to your future.

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