Thumbs up … We’re impressed by a new program aimed at developing young leaders in Union County. The program replaces classroom theory with hands-on entrepreneurial experiences that bring students, educators and business owners together to develop students and business interests in the community. Midland Institute’s CEO program will allow 20 students to visit local businesses and develop their own personal products and businesses that they will show off at a trade show. “Students will actually be developing true business plans,” Rollie Hawk, Union County chief information officer, said. The program, which is funded entirely by investors, aims to keep local talent in the area. CEO, which stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, has a track record of students developing successful businesses. The students will visit dozens of businesses and hear 50 to 60 guest speakers. Each will also be paired with a business person in a mentor relationship.