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CEO Students Present First Businesses

Fifteen Montgomery County high school seniors opened the doors to their very first businesses at the inaugural Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities trade show.

This year's event was held on Tuesday evening, April 26, at Lincoln Land Community College, where each student presented a booth with his or her business idea.

The CEO program was launched last fall with 15 high school seniors from Hillsboro, Lincolnwood and Nokomis high schools participating. Dr. Ryan Follis is the program administrator. Board members for the CEO program include Adam Anderson, Kurt Aumann, Valerie Belusko, Phil Borgic, Misty Borrowman, Rex Brown, Kendal Elvidge, Lacy Glenn, Heather Hampton+Knodle, Doug Hoster, Jeffrey Howell, Merle Imler, Marchelle Kassebaum, Amy Patton and David Powell.

At the end of the evening, board member Misty Borrowman announced the winners of several awards. She thanked everyone who stopped by the trade show to talk to the new business owners, and read the mission statement of the program.

"The Montgomery CEO program builds confidence and skills in our hardworking and trustworthy youth to empower them to create sustainable economic development and social prosperity in Montgomery County," she said.

Borrowman also thanked the more than 40 businesses and individuals who have stepped up to sponsor the program in this county.

In presenting the Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards, Borrowman said that eight of the 15 students applied for the award. Volunteer reviewers selected this year's winners, which included Kacie Cachera for KC Kaboodles, JoAnna Marley for Capital A Creations and Lucaas Secrist for Nana's Warm and Cozies. Marley also won the Most Deserving CEO Award, which was voted on by her fellow students.

Other student business owners include Abby Meyer of Attic Creations, Steven Weller of Black Diamond Detailing, Chris Storm of Eterna-Care, John Dirigo of Fitness Distributed, Kylie Carlile of Kapture Dreams Photography, Lucas Brookshire of LB Farms, Karmyn Cox of Marks Made, Hannah Dudek of Medalworks, Lexi Emerson of Music Box, Autumn Boliard of Nokomis Jump Start Volleyball Camp, Dominic Ruppert of Rountree Recips and Abbi Ruppert of Rove Recycling.

"The first year of our program has been an overwhelming success," Borrowman said. "We've accomplished our goals and more, due in part to facilitator Ryan Follis, who did a fabulous job."

Dr. Follis said that all the students did a great job, and that the CEO class is a great program and a great addition to the county.He also announced the names of next year's class of young entrepreneurs. They will have a chance to meet with this year's students to ask questions and get helpful advice.

Student Lucaas Secrist, a senior at Hillsboro High School, presented Borrowman with a check for $3,000 in leftover funds from their class business project, a Brushville concert, held at Hillsboro High School in February.

"This class challenges you to be a better person, and then a better businessman," Secrist said.

In concluding, students presented Dr. Follis with a commemorative gift, including a shadowbox with the names of the first class members, a photo and a ticket from the Brushville concert. For more information, visit their website at

Source: The Journal-News

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