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CEO program to host Ignite

The Hancock County Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities class of 2017 will host the annual Ignite program from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Lake Hill Winery in Carthage.

Cost is $30 per person.

Hancock County Ignite is an informative business luncheon designed to teach valuable workplace communication skills with keynote speaker, Bob Schultz.  

Schultz is the President of the Schultz Investment Company, a private family office. He also is Chairman of AKRA Builders, Inc., and a director of Midland States Bank, a publicly traded $3 billion financial services firm.

Schultz serves on a variety of non-profit entities including the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship – the organization promoting the CEO class in communities across the nation.

Each year, he presents his talk on “The Art of Conversation” to CEO classes in Illinois and Indiana.

He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Notre Dame Law School.

About CEO

The CEO program is open to juniors and seniors in high school in Hancock County.

Each class creates a class business, which will be presented during the Ignite program Feb. 22. After the presentation and panel with students, it’s back to the drawing board to work on individual businesses.

Warsaw High School student Trevor Sandidge is in his second year in the program, and rather than creating a new business, he is growing his business.

Legacy Conversions converts old VHS tapes to DVD, photos to CDs and much more. Sandidge has been in business for just over a year, according to Hancock County CEO Facilitator Christine Murphy.

Sandidge worked with Dan Asbury of Hamilton to come up with the idea.

“He does printing, and I wanted to do something like that,” Sandidge said. “I wanted to do a play on printing and make things digital. It took many nights of research and then the purchase of equipment.”

Once students decide on a personal business, they present it during a trade show in April or May. After the trade show, students have a chance to visit with local banks to get a business loan to start their business.

“It’s not just a project,” Murphy said. “They have the chance to make some money and have a business.”

Other students who are in the program for the first time were not ready to share their business ideas, but Murphy is confident the young men will have creative ideas.

Illini West High School student Connor Artman said he has enjoyed the class so far because it’s not a typical class.

“We don’t really have homework,” he said. “We have journals to write in and work on our businesses, but it’s not really homework. And it’s all on you.”

“The students are graded because it’s a high school and college credited class,” Murphy said. “But they’re grading on how well they complete little projects.

“They’re learning life lessons. That’s a big part of this program.”

Artman said he has learned to be more particular about the little things since participating in the CEO class.

“I’m thinking the little things over a lot more,” he said. “That’s how a business-owner would think.”

IWHS student Hunter Wilde said the program has taught him more responsibility.

“I know I’m being held accountable for what I do in this class,” he said. “I’m learning time management and responsibility.”

Two of the four Hancock County schools are represented in the CEO Class of 2017. Murphy wants to see all four schools participate next year.

She said there haven’t been any from Hamilton yet, and wants that to change.

The class will visit high schools and meet with students to talk to them about the program and their experiences so far. Students who are interested can then apply and complete the requirements for application.

“It’s not just sign up and show up,” Murphy said. “There are essays, and they have to provide business and personal references.”

The program is offered to students for no cost to them or their school. Murphy said funding comes mostly from donations.

Classes meet from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesdays, and are open to the public. Murphy encourages community members to visit the class to see what they learn.

For more information about the Ignite program or to get tickets, contact CEO Class President Artman at 217-357-5282 or

By: Emma VanArsdale
Source: Hancock County Pilot 

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