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West Prairie learns about CEO program

COLCHESTER — The West Prairie School Board on Thursday was given information and updated on the progress on the Midland CEO program by Honey Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, who teaches Supply Chain Management at the Business College at Western Illinois University, represented herself as a member of the steering committee of the Midland CEO program for McDonough County.

She said Midland Institute is the creator and founder of the “Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities” program, which is a year-long high school business elective course with the purpose of imparting business and management expertise to students.

Zimmerman explained the program was created for high school juniors and seniors. Students attend a 90-minute course five days a week learning business and management skills through the hands-on experience of running their own business and retaining profits earned from the goods and services sold to customers.

To initiate the CEO program, support is required from the district school board for the curriculum developed by Midland.

MAEDCO with Executive Director Kim Pierce is the area sponsor introducing the CEO program and responsible for getting verbal commitment from area schools for funding. Both MAEDCO and the steering committee are working together to advertise the program.

Once necessary levels of funding have been fulfilled, MAEDCO will pull back, and the steering committee will take over. Local and area businesses — not school districts — pay into the program.

“The incentives for the businesses is because they are investing in (a) our community, (b) the future of potential employees as well as future potential customers and (c) the program is all about teaching the students about business,” Zimmerman said.

According to a financial sheet distributed by Zimmerman during the school board meeting, $45,000 in operational money is required for one year of the program, and $25,000 in initiation fees. The initiation fee is a one-time fee paid to the Midland Institute. The funding goal is to reach $70,000...

Total amount raised as of Oct. 24 is $11,000 operational money and $19,750 initiation fee for a combined total of $30,750.

“They (students) get to create their own – they have a class business that they create as well as an individual business that they create and run. They have to do the marketing plan, they have to do the financial plan, they go in front of a banker to present their plan and get a loan from the bank.“

She added that students will have to sell their business and they will have to get a booth at a trade show. “They run a full-fledged business.“

Briefly outlining the program, Zimmerman specified that student’s time will be split between class room instruction and meeting together as a class on-site with business, such as “the boardroom of the hospital, the winery and the veterinarian’s office and the bank.“

There will also be “50 to 60 different guest speakers each year” and “one to two tours a week of area businesses,” Zimmerman said. “It’s really kind of a flip classroom – they really do not have quizzes and exams and homework like we would traditionally think of; their homework is in creating their business plan and presenting it to a board of directors.“

The curriculum also includes students meeting with mentors from a local business.

Students are responsible for their own transportation. Because Macomb is central for the school district in McDonough County Zimmerman said, “Macomb is where a majority of classes might be held.“

She anticipates the first classes to be held Fall 2019. “Students who are freshmen and sophomores right now will be the first students to start the program in McDonough County next year.”

By: Christopher Ginn 

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