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Teaching Students How to Build a Business

AUSTIN, Minn. - It's a program that's already proving to be a huge success in Willmar, Minnesota. It's a class that teaches high school students how to start their very own business.

Now, the CEO Program is coming to Austin High School and students there are getting to hear first hand about why they should take the class.

"We tour the businesses that are in our community and learn the ins and outs of what they're all about and how they started. And they give us a ton of business advice and really try to get us emerged into the business community," said Kylie Halvorson, a junior at Willmar High School who is currently taking the CEO class.

Halvorson is also learning how to build a business of her own.

"I really enjoy vintage clothing. I love mom jeans and old crew neck sweatshirts. So for my business I'm doing a curated vintage pop up shop," Halvorson said.

Halvorson and her classmates shared their experience in the CEO program with students at Austin High School, in hopes of getting them interested in the program. After hearing from the Willmar students, Austin High School junior Morgan Hose plans to take the class.

"school teaches you the fundamentals of what you need to know, but CEO takes it a step further by applying those fundamentals into the real world and how it will help you expand what you want to do in college and what you want to do with your future," Hose said.

The program relies on help from local businesses. So far, Austin has 39 investors, but they're hoping to get to 50 before the program starts.

"This program is all about teaching life skills to students by giving them projects to do. And they have to solve the problems that come with those projects. They have to solve them on their own but with the help of the business community in the form of mentors, in the form of visits to different facilities. So the business community really becomes a resource for the student," said Tim Fritz, who works at Hormel Foods and is also an investor in the program.

"Now what does the business community get out of it? We get out of it the satisfaction of watching these students grow," Fritz said.

"It is so life changing. I have noticed so much growth in myself and with the classmates around me. You will use every single thing that you learn in this class like handshakes, eye contact, knowing people in the community. It's just impactful and so extraordinary, I'd definitely recommend it. Ten out of ten," Halvorson said.

The CEO Program will be available for students in Austin starting this fall.

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