The Washington Times-Herald

February 27, 2013

Washington to be first in state with CEO program

By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald

WASHINGTON — A brand-new educational opportunity for high school students is coming to Washington next school year and the local business community is invited to be a large part.

The CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) Program will start this fall, and a kick-off meeting was held at the Washington Ponderosa on Tuesday for the business community. A luncheon was hosted by the Daviess County Economic Development Foundation.

Washington is one of six areas the CEO program will be in 2013, and it will be the first of its kind in Indiana.

This program is like few others as it will take 22 students and place them in the local business community, where they will create their own businesses. Students will meet outside high school before school starts, for 90 minutes a day. It has won several awards for its ingenuity and results of keeping talented individuals at home.

Craig Lindvahl, the creator of the CEO program five years ago in Effingham, Ill., said the program is unique because it shows students they can achieve the most in their community.

“Business is the topic but it is really about creating successful people,” Lindvahl said.

While in the program, the students will create two to three different business plans, run a class business, visit area businesses, hear from many guest speakers and have a mentor to start their own business.

“Your kids will start real businesses,” Lindvahl said.

The program is for Washington and Washington Catholic high school students and will be taught by WHS business and marketing teacher Bill Turner.

Turner, who has received many honors as the sponsor of the WHS DECA club, said the program goes “beyond the walls of the school.”

“It is a merger between the students and the community,” Turner said. “We’re working together to develop our students for the whole of Daviess County.”

The process to get in is by application that includes letters of recommendation and character references. The students, Lindvahl said, will work hard but the benefits will be great. Interest, according to WHS Principal LeAnne Kelley, is high.

“Bill did a project and invited (Lindvahl) in and he’s got kids talking about it,” Kelley said.

A local board consisting of business professionals and school leaders has already been formed for the program. Marilyn McCullough of Thompson Insurance got to see the program firsthand in Effingham, Ill., and was in awe.

“We are so fortunate to be able to get the program going in our own community,” McCullough said.

The CEO program does not use any school funding, but is totally funded through local businesses and the DCEDF. Washington Schools Superintendent Daniel Roach said he is excited about the partnership.

“We will be the frontrunner in something that others will want to pattern after,” Roach said. “It does fit well with what Mr. Turner has done in the past.”

While the CEO program looks to have a promising start, business leaders and interested individuals are needed to volunteer their time, office space, or make financial contributions to the program. Interested persons can contact Amy Haag at the Foundation at 254-1500 or ahaag@bcsbiz.com.