Local Leaders Launch Crawford County Student Entrepreneurship Program

Local Leaders Launch Crawford County Student Entrepreneurship Program

By September 21, 2022 3:14 PM

CRAWFORD COUNTYCrawford CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) is a new countywide program geared toward high school students interested in business and entrepreneurship. The program is scheduled to begin serving students in the fall of 2023. An effort is currently underway to increase community support and investment.

The program offers high school students the opportunity to immerse themselves in an authentic and dynamic learning environment linked to the challenges and opportunities of the local community. The model connects students with community leaders through business visits, guest speakers, and mentorship. It challenges them to become great communicators, networkers, problem solvers, and creative thinkers. The discovery learning environment has two culminating experiences for program participants: a team-built classroom business and a real individual business that is showcased in a pitching competition and trade show event.

The CEO program is a model created by the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship and there are more than 62 other programs operating in seven other states. Seneca County launched the first program in the state of Ohio in 2021 and Crawford will join them as the second in 2023.

High school students of all skill sets and backgrounds can succeed in this transformative, life-changing experience that inspires entrepreneurial thinking and develops the workforce of tomorrow. CEO success is reflected in the development of essential skills and a broad and enduring network of community members and business owners. Many students have continued to operate their businesses after graduating from the program and alumni are also more likely to remain or return to their home communities.

Shayden Heiser, a graduate of the inaugural class of Seneca’s CEO program and owner of Heiser Cattle Co., said, “I never realized there were so many local resources and networks in a small community like ours. I always thought you needed to move to a more urban area to be successful in business. Thanks to the CEO, I am excited to grow my business here in Seneca County.”

The Crawford CEO Program is being driven by a strong group of local leaders, including North Central Electric Cooperative’s Audrey Flood, Crawford Success Center’s Nate Harvey, Crawford Partnership’s David Zak, Galion-Crestline Chamber’s Miranda Jones, Commissioner Larry Schmidt County, James Patrick of Bucyrus Copper Kettle, Averee Richardson of Bucyrus Chamber, Todd Boyer of Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, Kevin Fourman of Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center, and Todd Martin of Colonel Crawford Local Schools.

The program operates entirely through community support; neither students nor schools pay to participate. Currently, the group’s greatest need is to obtain a minimum of 35 local businesses that are willing to support the program through an investment of $1,000 per year. Crawford’s CEO is asking businesses to invest in the future of the community by pledging to support this program annually. Once launched, the program will need businesses to host students on their sites, speakers to share knowledge and experiences, mentors to pair with students, and volunteers to help drive the program forward. At this time, raising investors of $1,000 each is the most urgent need to ensure the success of the program.

On Tuesday, October 11, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, the CEO of Crawford will host a “community kickoff” event at Bakers Pizza to introduce the program to the community. Guests will hear from Chris Egelston of the Midland Institute, as well as students who participated in Seneca County’s CEO program last year. Business leaders, as well as interested parents, students, and community members, are encouraged to attend. Donors who pledge to support the program will also be recognized at the event.

Board member David Zak said, “The CEO program is a proven national model that works with businesses and schools to transform high school students into real-world entrepreneurs and ideal future employees. I know the program well and am excited to be a part of helping launch it here in Crawford County.”

For more information about the Crawford CEO Program, to request information on becoming a sponsor, or to RSVP to the event, contact Board President Audrey Flood at 440-387-6562 or aflood@fesco-oh .org. Learn more about the overall program at discoverceo.com.

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