CRAWFORD COUNTY – Crawford CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) is a new county-wide program targeting high school students who are interested in business and entrepreneurship. The program is set to begin serving students in the fall of 2023. An effort to raise community support and investment is currently underway.
The program offers high school students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a dynamic and authentic learning environment tied to the challenges and opportunities in the local community. The model connects students to community leaders through business visits, guest speakers and mentorship. It challenges them to become great communicators, networkers, problem solvers, and creative thinkers. The discovery learning environment has two culminating experiences for program participants: a team-built class business, and a real individual business which is showcased at a pitch competition and a trade show event.
The CEO program is a model created by the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship and there are more than 62 other programs operating in seven other states. Seneca County launched the first program in the State of Ohio in 2021 and Crawford is set to join them as the second in 2023.
High school students of all skill sets and backgrounds can be successful in this transformational, life-changing experience that inspires entrepreneurial thinking and develops the workforce of tomorrow. The success of CEO is reflected in the development of essential skills and an expansive, long-lasting network of community members and business owners. Many students have continued to operate their businesses after graduating from the program and alumni have also been more likely to stay in or return to their home communities.
Shayden Heiser, a graduate of the inaugural class of the Seneca CEO program and owner of Heiser Cattle Co., said, “I never realized there were so many local resources and networks in a small community like ours. I always thought you needed to move to a more urban area to be successful in business. Because of CEO, I’m excited to be growing my business right here in Seneca County.”
The Crawford CEO program is being driven by a strong group of local leaders including Audrey Flood of North Central Electric Cooperative, Nate Harvey of the Crawford Success Center, David Zak of the Crawford Partnership, Miranda Jones of the Galion-Crestline Chamber, County Commissioner Larry Schmidt, James Patrick of Bucyrus Copper Kettle, Averee Richardson of the Bucyrus Chamber, Todd Boyer of Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, Kevin Fourman of the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center and Todd Martin of Colonel Crawford Local Schools.
The program operates completely though community support; neither students nor schools pay to participate. Currently, the group’s biggest need is obtaining a minimum of 35 local businesses who are willing to support the program through an investment of $1000 per year. Crawford CEO is asking businesses to invest in the future of the community by committing to support this program annually. Once launched, the program will be in need of businesses to host students at their sites, speakers to share knowledge and experience, mentors to be paired with students and volunteers to help drive the program. Right now, gathering investors of $1000 each is the most urgent need to ensure success of the program.
On Tuesday, October 11 from 5:30-7:30pm, Crawford CEO will be hosting a “Community Kickoff” event at Bakers Pizza to introduce the community to the program. Guests will hear from Chris Egelston from the Midland Institute as well as students who participated in the Seneca County CEO program last year. Business leaders as well as interested parents, students and community members are encouraged to attend. Donors who commit to supporting the program will also be recognized at the event.
Board member David Zak said, “The CEO program is a proven national model that works with businesses and schools to transform high school students into real-world entrepreneurs and ideal future employees. I know the program well, and I’m excited to be a part of helping it launch here in Crawford County.”
For more information on the Crawford CEO program, to inquire about becoming a supporter, or to RSVP for the event, contact board chairman, Audrey Flood at 440-387-6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the general program at discoverceo.com.