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CEO program gets start from business

MT. VERNON — A donation of nearly $30,000 was received Wednesday for the Jefferson County CEO: Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program.

Banterra Bank, Community First Bank of the Heartland, Bill Beck, National Railway Equipment Co., Peoples National Bank, Tedrick Insurance Co., and Williamson Asia made the donation.

The program is an entrepreneur class for high school seniors in Jefferson County and is funded and guided solely by the business community in cooperation with the area high schools.

“The goal of CEO is to give high school seniors real life experience in what becoming an entrepreneur is all about,” information from Jefferson County CEO states. “The program also shows future entrepreneurs that achieving success as an entrepreneur can be done in Jefferson County, encouraging students to seek their dreams while building our local community and economy”

The CEO program was presented in March to local high schools, and will be launched in the fall of 2016. The class is offered for credit at all high schools except Mt. Vernon Township High School, however, Rend Lake College has agreed to offer college credit for the class. Local businesses are responsible for raising the funding to operate the program.

“Jefferson County CEO, through the cooperation of Ron Daniel's Regional Superintendent's Office, will hire an instructor or facilitator, who will coordinate business visits,. speakers and a class business venture and more,” said Jeff Haarmann, CEO task force chairman. “Our business partners are vital to our program. The funding they provide allow us to operate the program, but it is the involvement of the business community that makes this program such a great experience for the students. This initial group of capital investors are leaders of our community and are showing their dedication to building Jefferson County into a viable, business-friendly community, capable of supporting business ventures of our future generations.”

Mary Burgan, member of the task force and one of the founding members of the group, said she is humbled the donations were received that would allow the program to get started in the Jefferson County high schools.

"This has surpassed our initial funding needs," Haarmann said. "Now we have the task of getting about 40 investors at $1,000 each, which will sustain the program for the foreseeable future."

By TESA GLASS tesa.glass@register-news.com

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