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Efforts underway to expand business education in Macon County

DECATUR — Efforts are underway to establish a Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, or CEO, program for high school seniors in Macon County.

The program would expand on what was started in 2008 in Effingham and has grown through the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship to 40 communities in 4 states. CEO is a year-long course that offers students an inside look at area businesses.

“This is a perfect time to be introduced to something like this with everything that is happening around Macon County,” said Karen Rolofson of Argenta, who is leading the organizational efforts. “This will open their eyes to what's available in the area.”

Rolofson said by taking the course, students become more encouraged to return to their hometowns after finishing either high school or college.

In addition to area school districts and private high schools, Rolofson said the program needs support from area businesses. A breakfast meeting will be held at 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in the Shilling Center at Richland Community College to provide information to get involved with the program, which Rolofson said would is targeted to start in the fall of 2017 if it has enough support by then.

Midland Institute Interim Executive Director Cheryl Mitchell will discuss various aspects of the program. The Institute is involved with providing training, materials, mentoring and guidance leading up to the launch of a CEO program in various communities.

“It is the standard for entrepreneurship education in the nation,” Mitchell said.

CEO can be supported by those who donate money, mentor students, provide a meeting space, open their businesses for tours or speak to the class. Students will develop a group business plan during the fall semester, followed by developing individual business plans to showcase in the spring.

Rolofson said organizers have visited other programs, including one in Christian County, to see it in action. Students have said how they thought the class should be an opportunity for more to be a part of, Rolofson said.

“It is so different,” Rolofson said. “We've really gotten excited learning about it.”

Source: Herald and Review
By: Chris Lusvarsdi H&R Staff Writer

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