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Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) is a combination of Unit 10 and 20 students learning the basics of business. The students are largely autonomous as they go through making their own businesses, gaining valuable skills they will be able to apply later in life, as well as benefiting our community now.

2019 CEO Class
Back Row: Noah Weger, Logan Vaughn, Alec G, Cavan Rich, Eli I, Matt, and Nick
Front Row: Joey, Tabitha Reid, Shelby Russell, Jaylnn Ault, Maizie Organ, and Barbara Large

See the Lawrence County CEO Facebook page for more information.

We want to thank our first guest speaker, Bob Christy of Cochran Insurance, Co. for bringing us not only business tips but life lessons that we can carry with us throughout our life’s journey. We also want to thank Rachel Hipsher, Director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Board Member as well as Macey Waggoner, Alumni and Board Member, for giving us tips on appropriate business dress.

On November 5th, in CEO, our facilitator, Barbara Large, was unable to attend class. To fill in, LCCEO Board Member, Rachel Hipsher, came and facilitated today’s class. We started by having a discussion on what we have already accomplished in regards to our class business and what we still have to do. Rachel told us that creating lists is a effective way to organize ideas and to make sure everything gets done. We also talked about ticket sales and getting door prizes donated. We rounded out class by practicing our Lip Sync routine. There is only 5 more days until the big day! See you Saturday!

On November 2nd, in CEO, we visited WAKO to record advertisements for our Dinner and Lip Sync Competition. Catch all of us on AM99.3 and FM103.1 starting tomorrow! And also we owe a big thank you to WAKO for letting us come out today. It was a great week of CEO!

On November 1st, in CEO we were joined by Lawrence County CEO board member and alumna, Macey Waggoner. Macey was a part of the first CEO class in the county. During the time she spent with us, Macey talked to us about our upcoming class business and some about the ideas we have for our individual businesses. She did a great job giving us advice from a different perspective and asking questions that we have not yet thought of. One thing Macey told us was to find something that we like to do and can see ourselves carrying on with after the class year ends. Her business, which was creating gift baskets, is still operational at certain times of the year. At the end of class, we gave Macey a preview of our act for the Lip Sync Competition on November 10th. Macey is also performing in conjunction with the LCCEO Board. We greatly appreciate her coming in today.

On October 30th, in CEO, we toured Aperion Care in Bridgeport. Our tour was given by Patti Ash, who is the head of Human Resources and payroll. During the tour, we learned about all of the different positions in the nursing home, how funding works, and an overview of how things run on a day to day basis. One piece of advise Patti gave the class was to find something you love to do and can also get paid to do it. Currently, Aperion Care in Bridgeport has 67 residents and 85 employees. They were previously a privately owned nursing home, before being purchased by Aperion in 2014.

On October 26th, our CEO class enjoyed a working breakfast at Jay's Hilltop in Bridgeport. We continue to fine tune our class business and have started thinking about plans for our individual businesses. We accomplished a lot, enjoyed each other's company, and had a fantastic breakfast! It was a great way to end a busy week in CEO!

On October 25th, our CEO class moved to our new hub, New Hope Christian Church in Bridgeport. We continue to work on our class business and are trying to pick out a song for our lip sync performance. Remember to mark your calendar for our pulled pork dinner and lip sync competition November 10 at Lawrenceville High School. Dinner will be served between the hours of 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. The lip sync begins at 7:00. Hope to see you there!

On October 23rd, our CEO class toured CFCO, Inc. With owner Norman Kocher. This business was incorporated in 1982 and offers irrigation, drainage and excavation services. They employ 13 people there and Norman said that CFCO is the biggest dealer of drainage equipment East of the Mississippi. We were able to get a great view of the equipment they use to put in these systems and were invited to visit a site where they are actually resetting a levy. One of the important points that Norman emphasized was when we get a job, learn everything there is to know about it. Be the expert and know every detail.
It was a great day in CEO!

On October 23rd, our CEO class toured Flying S, Inc which is an aerospace company located in Crawford County. Flying S is able to fabricate anything from carbon fiber aircraft wings to intricate molds and machine parts. David and Penny Shaw built their company on the family farm and it has grown from just a couple of employees to over 60 today. Penny emphasized that a business can be successful in rural Illinois and there are plenty of smart people with excellent skills in this part of the country. She said do the best you can at whatever you do and make the world a better place!

On October 22nd, Don Wagner, Mayor of Lawrenceville, facilitated a mock city council meeting for our CEO class. Mayor Wagner said that the city has been staying on budget and attributes that to good people working for us. Twenty-four people are employed by the city and they work very hard to help keep it running smoothly. Don said they appropriated 5.4 million dollars for the year, but hope to keep costs closer to 2.4 to 2.5 million. He also told us that tax payers only pay $483,000 and the rest comes from water, sewer and state and federal taxes. The mayor said he loves being mayor because he loves helping people.

On October 21st, in CEO we toured the Toyota plant in Princeton, Indiana. It opened in 1999 and today turns out 1700 vehicles a day. They emphasized a lean production which means they don't make a vehicle until it is ordered. They even schedule delivery of parts when they actually use them. Toyota manufacuring is known for its safety and quality workmanship. One of the takeaways from this tour was be proactive on getting to work on time each day. No excuses!

On October 17th, in CEO our guest speaker was Rachel Hipsher, Executive Director of Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. Rachel gave us a quick tutorial on Facebook posting and then talked to us about getting the word out to the public regarding our class business. She also gave us some tips to make our class business a big success. Rachel has an extreme amount of experience and expertise in planning and promoting events, so we really appreciate her taking time to help us with our dinner and lip sync competition. Please see our event page for more information on this fun filled evening November 10 at the LHS cafeteria and auditorium.


 On October 16th, our CEO class met at the Lawrence County Health Department board room. Our speakers were Amy Marley, Communicable Disease Nurse and Eric Paulin, Director of Environmental Health. Eric talked about how common foodborne illnesses are and the importance of washing fruits and vegetables, but more importantly washing our hands.  Amy said that she sees100 to 250 cases of communicable disease cases a year and told us the importance of inoculation.  Amy said that the health care field is an excellent field to pursue that encompasses not just medical positions but many business positions as well. She said the LCHD runs on a 5 million dollar budget and employs 68 people.

On October 15th, in CEO we spent the class time contacting people who might be interested in buying tickets to our dinner and lip sync competition November 10 at LHS starting at 5:30 p.m. We also stopped by some of the schools to invite students and teachers to participate in the competition. One of the stops included Mrs Gray's first grade class at Parkside Elementary School.

On October 14th, in CEO we were given a tour of Mid American Air Center by Manager Kurt Schwartz and Assistant Manager Tyler Funk. Mid American Air Center covers over 3000 acres of land and was originally an Army Aircorp training base during WWII. We were also fortunate to tour two of the businesses located there. First we toured USA Aero Refinishing, L.L.C. which is a business that totally refinishes all types of planes, including multimillion dollar jets. They have clients from all over the world. We then toured Indigo Industries with owner and entrepreneur, Colin McCavitt, who is partnering with Vincennes University to provide a program that will not only teach students to fly large surveillance drones, but to build and maintain them. Some of the takeaways today were even though building your own business can mean working unbelievable hours, it is important to wedge out some time for yourself. And never forget the importance of networking and building relationships. It was a great tour and a great way to end the week in CEO!

On October 11th, in CEO Noah Weger served as our chief operating officer. He checked to see how ticket sales were going for our class business and discussed who the students should be targeting for sales. He then focused on making sure we are reaching those who are interested in performing in the lip sync competition. He pointed out that anyone interested in signing up to perform can download an application from our website. We then went to Citizens Bank of Albion to accept the investors check from Greg Lewis, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager Lawrenceville Banking Center and Lynn Jacobsen, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager Bridgeport Banking Center. We sincerely thank Citizens Bank of Albion for being investors in our program!
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On October 9th, in CEO was class business hustle day. We layed out a marketing plan for our class business and assigned duties to each student to carry this out.
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On October 4th, in CEO we got the tickets for our class business ready for sale. We will be holding a pulled pork dinner and lip sync competition November 10 at Lawrenceville High School cafeteria and auditorium. Dinner will be served during the hours of 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Dinner tickets cost $10. The lip sync will start at 7:00 p.m and costs $5. If you want to compete in the lip sync, you can sign up at either RHHS, LHS or the Lawrence County Chamber. We also checked out the sound and lighting systems in the auditorium. To conclude this very busy day, we joined the "Game Day" festivities to support some of our fellow students who were participating in the volleyball competition. It was a fun way to end the week!
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On October 3rd, in CEO our guest speaker was Susan Odum, a University of Illinois Extension educator from Harrisburg, Illinois. She talked about rural economics and explained how money circulates in rural areas. She explained the importance of buying locally to keep our tax dollars here to support our county, our city, and our schools.
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On October 2nd, our CEO class toured the Birds/Pinkstaff Water District with board member Kyle Gray. Kyle graduated from LHS and received Bachelor's and Master's degree in business from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Kyle is now a consultant with ItK Consulting. He said his job is basically trouble shooting software. Kyle told us how the water board turned the Birds/Pinkstaff water district that was losing about 50% of their water and 50 % of their revenue into a well-run efficient water district. Kyle also told us as we start creating our student businesses to not be afraid to fail and don't be afraid to try. He also emphasized the importance of delivering on your promise. We want to thank Kyle for an interesting tour and some great advice.
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On October 1st, in CEO we met at the computer lab to create posters, tickets, and flyers for our class business which is a pulled pork dinner and lip-sync competition November 10. If you want to enter the competition, you can pick up an application form at either high school or at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.
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On September 29th, Paula McKim of the Lawrence County Chamber was our guest speaker. Paula gave us some tips about how to make our lip sync competition a success. As many of you might remember, the chamber sponsored a lip sync competition here in Lawrence County for 15 years. While Paula explained how they ran the lip sync back then, she emphasized how important it is for us to do it our way. She said we are young and have fresh ideas that we should utilize. It was a very productive day in CEO! Thanks Paula for all your help!
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On Septemer 27th, Nicole Gray, a CEO alumnus, was our guest speaker. Her topic this morning was "Change." Nicole said we would see change in ourselves and change in our personal businesses as we go through the process of developing them. She said that we are going to see a lot of something that didn't work well. Nicole said take that and turn it into something better! Nicole gave us a lot of insight into how to develop a student business and how she managed school, a job, and her CEO business. After her presentation, we all felt like we could succeed as entrepreneurs. She also offered to help us in any we she could. We want to thank Nicole for bringing each of us a jar of her Rightfully Replenished sugar scrubs. If you are in need of improving your skin you can find her sugar scrubs at Ace Hardware in Lawrenceville and Jane's Beauty Salon in Bridgeport. 
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Lip Sync App


It was a very positive and motivating day in CEO! Jamie Tussey was the guest speaker on Wednesday, September 26th. Jamie spoke to us about improving our Facebook page and gave us some great ideas about marketing our class business which is a pulled pork dinner and a lip sync competition on November 10th at the Lawrenceville High School cafeteria and auditoriumDinner will served from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. and the lip sync competition begins at 7:00. Tickets will be available soon. Anyone interested in signing up for the competition can do so at both Lawrenceville High School and Red Hill High School.

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On September 12th, our CEO class toured Bowler Performance Transmission with owner Mark Bowler. Bowler Performance Transmission builds the highest quality transmissions in the world and ship them worldwide. Mark says customer service is the most important thing in business. And he points out that when you build a really quality product most people don’t even know what your customer service is like because they don’t have any complaints.

Mark gave us many valuable tips to be successful in business. He says it is essential to put money back into your business because besides quality, presentation is key. He gave the analogy that nobody wants to eat in a dirty restaurant and nobody wants to buy a transmission from a shop that has dirt and grease that could make the difference between a transmission working properly or getting jammed up. He says don’t cut corners and always do your best work. Mark talked about several of the business people who helped him along the way and how important they were to him getting started. He said don’t be afraid to lean on people who are really good at what they do. Mark said to surround yourself with good people because without good people you cannot be successful.

We also want to thank Mark for the wonderful breakfast treats he provided during out tour. It was a great tour and it was a good example of being able to have a successful international business in Lawrence County!


On September 13th, we reported on our sales at the Lawrence County Fall Festival on Thursday. We scheduled workers for Sep. 13th and 14th and hope everyone will stop by our booth to buy a chance to win a processed whole hog. We will also be at the Red Hill homecoming game Saturday, Sep. 15th from 11:30 till halftime. We all decided to reconvene class at McDonald's where we shared a hearty breakfast and set a date for our class business. More details to come!

On September 25th, our CEO class toured New Leaf Fitness and Spa with manager, Josh DeCausey. Josh told us this entire complex was the vision of owner, Jan Loeb and Mike Preston was the contractor who made it happen. The building was originally a car dealership back in the 30s and 40s and maintains some of the original pieces such as the motor that was used to lift the cars from the first floor to the second floor for repairs and servicing.
Josh said that cost cutting is always a concern for any business in a small rural area like Lawrence County. He says one of the ways New Leaf keeps costs down is that he does a lot of the maintenance himself. He feels very fortunate that his past experiences gave him those skills.
In addition to giving us a tour of New Leaf, Josh also gave us tours of COCO'S Cafe & Wine Bar, a full service restaurant; The Mandarin, a peaceful retreat with massage therapy and more; The Salon, a full service hair and nail salon; and The Barn, a rustic yet elegant event menu. For more information about this beautiful facility visit their website.
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Monday, September 24th, our CEO class met at the LHS computer lab to watch three life lesson videos provided by Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship. They presented three main points: everything has value, be open to learning new things, and don't think they don't know. The last point was really about when you commit to something then do it, no excuses! We then worked on creating advertising for our class business.
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Friday, September 21st, our CEO class made some decisions about the class business. We assigned various jobs to each student and talked about ideas for promotion. We then did a team-building activity that took a lot of cooperation to accomplish. We are definitely learning that to accomplish anything in business you have work together. It was a very productive week in CEO!
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Thursday, September 20th our CEO class toured AgriGold and AgReliant near St Francisville. At AgriGold, business manager, Jarad Arnold, told us a little about the history of this seed corn company. He said it was the brain child of Clarence Akin in 1936. Clarence was interested in the genetics of creating new hybrids that would tolerate various problems brought on by mother nature. AgriGold's goal is still to maximize crop production. After 80 years of selling seed corn AgriGold has now expanded their production to soybean seed as well. Jarad gave us some great advice. He said to say yes to opportunities, do what you are passionate about, and be patient and good things will come to you.
We then toured AgReliant with manager, Bryan Schallenberg, who explained the actual process of planting, harvesting, packaging, and selling the seed corn. We were able to actually see the large semis unloading the corn and then watch the corn travel up the conveyor belts to be sorted and dried. We were then able to see the corn packaged and labeled and stacked on large pallets ready to be sold.

This was a very interesting tour. We really appreciate the fantastic breakfast and the goody bags they gave all of us! Thanks so much to Jarad, Bryan, Loni Moyes, and Jessica Vowells.
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Wednesday, September 19th in CEO class we talked about some of the important lessons we've learned from our guest speakers and tour hosts so far. We all agree that to be successful in business,it is important to do what you say you are going to do, do it well, and be on time. We also got our name badges ordered today and can't wait to get them. It was quite a learning process, from putting ourselves out there to sell advertising to coming together as a team to agree on a design for the badge. It was definitely a feeling of accomplishment!

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Tuesday, September our CEO class toured Gray's Restaurant in Bridgeport with owner, Todd Gray. Todd told us the restaurant has been in rhe family since 1945 when his father bought it after returning from WWII. While Todd worked there even as a young person, he started working full time in 1974. Todd said Gray's has remained successful because they serve quality food and keep costs down by doing everything in house. No prepackaged foods are served at Gray's. In fact Todd says they are known for their hand cut fries
Todd says that to be successful in the restaurant industry you need to work hard, order the best products, and be efficient.
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Monday, September 17, our CEO class discussed ways to improve our hog raffle sales. We decided to bring the pig to our next sales opportunity which will be the LHS homecoming game. We also finalized ticket pricing and the dinner menu for our class business. We have decided to hold a dinner and lip sync competition on November 10, so mark your calendars!
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Friday, September 14th, our CEO class toured Pargin Retitrement and Planning Group with owner Matt Pargin. Matt graduated from Lawrenceville High School and the University of Illinois with a degree in finance. He got a job right out of school as a financial advisor with A. G. Edwards and a few years later opened his own business here in Lawrenceville. Matt said one of his biggest hurdle was getting people to feel confident in investing with a twenty three year young man. He said a few gray hairs has helped tremendously! Matt explained stocks, bonds, dividends, and mutual funds. He also gave us some great advice about how to invest wisely. Matt said the best investments in life are good health meaning take care of yourself, marry well, and surround yourself with honest, trustworthy, and caring people. We especially want to thank Matt and his assistant, Shelby Hatfield, for a fantastic breakfast! It was a great way to end the week!
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