Category Archives: Press Releases

Union County CEO Program Hosts Meet The Mentors Event

November 24, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Program Hosts Meet The Mentors Event

ANNA—The Union County CEO program recently hosted its annual Meet the Mentors breakfast.  This year’s breakfast took place at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and was the first meeting of the program’s 2017-2018 class with their mentors from the business community.

An important element of the CEO program is learning to communicate well with individuals around them.  Over the course of the school year, Union County CEO students have an opportunity to practice this communication not only through interactions with the owners of 50 to 70 small business owners within Union County but also through the mentoring program that the CEO program encourages.

Front row left to right: students Bryce Osman, Megan Rhine, Alejandra Lopez, Cheyenne Thorn, Grace Schroeder, Alex Rogers, Grace Pitts, Connor Allen, Zoe Fuhrhop and John Russell.  Back row left to right: mentors Darren Bailey, Robin Hawk, Glenda Boone, Casey Stout, Melanie Lasley, Larry Carter and Greg George. Unavailable for the picture were Stephanie Cox, Kelli Wood-Edward Jones and John Nimmo.

“I feel fortunate to be able to be a part of the CEO program.  This program not only teaches the students but also reminds the adults of what a great community we live in,” said mentor Melanie Lasley of A-J National Bank.

As a part of CEO, each CEO student is paired with a mentor from their local community to foster a relationship in which they communicate, receive advice and more with the generations before them.  One of the long-term goals of the program is to lead the students to roles as leaders not only in their individual businesses but in their community.

“The CEO program does a wonderful job of cultivating leadership in our youth,” said mentor Robin Hawk of Union County Abstract Office.  “It is a bright spot for our community and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a mentor again this year.”

This year’s mentors include Union County Treasurer Darren Bailey, Robin Hawk of Union County Abstract Office, Glenda Boone of US Bank, Casey Stout of US Bank, Melanie Lasley of A-J National Bank, retired pharmaceutical sales leader Larry Carter, Greg George of Anna State Bank, Stephanie Cox of A-J National Bank, Kelli Wood of Edward Jones and John Nimmo of Leadership Lived.

CEO—short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—is an experiential learning-based entrepreneurship course that seeks to build a comprehensive educational experience for high school students across the United States. The program seeks to foster the growth of young people who are able to demonstrate out-of-the box thinking, who are equipped to communicate well and to be problem-solving, teamwork oriented and self-motivated.

“The demanding yet exciting structure of the CEO program creates growth in our community’s youth that is undeniable,” added Kelli Wood of Edward Jones.  “To see young people with a passion for learning and business walk in a room and confidently shake hands with our community’s leaders is impressive and shows great promise for our county!”

For more information on the Union County CEO program or to make an investment and to follow the ongoing adventures of the 2017-2018 class, click over to UnionCountyCEO.org.

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U.S. Bank Foundation Awards Grant to Union County CEO Program for Fourth Year

November 10, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

U.S. Bank Foundation Awards Grant to Union County CEO Program for Fourth Year

COBDEN—The Union County CEO Program continues to receive support from one of its most loyal investors.  For the fourth year in a row, the U.S. Bank Foundation has awarded a very generous grant to the high school entrepreneurship program.

“We’re very excited to receive this grant,” said Whittney Accounting owner and CEO treasurer Mark Chamness.  “U.S. Bank has been a huge supporter of CEO from the beginning.”

Beth_Marks_and_Glenda_Boone

On November 7, 2017, U.S. Bank Cobden branch manager Glenda Boone presented CEO board member Beth Marks with a $3500 check.

Former CEO chairman Rollie Hawk assisted by writing the grant and was very complimentary of Boone and the Cobden branch.

“This is the second year that Glenda has agreed to pledge all of the Cobden branch’s grant funds to Union County CEO,” explained Hawk.  “That’s an incredible commitment to the future of not only these students but the future of the Union County economy!”

The Union County CEO Program is an entrepreneurship program for high school juniors and seniors that is funded entirely by investors.  For more information on the program or to make an investment, click over to UnionCountyCEO.org.

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Union County CEO Alumni Donate Profits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Alumni Donate Profits

Photo5ANNA—At a recent gathering of the Union County CEO Program family, alumni from the 2015-2016 class announced donations their class would be making from profits generated by the Christmas Cash class business.

Photo2Profits from Christmas Cash were initially used to make loans to individual student businesses during the spring semester.  Those loans having been repaid, the program’s 2015-2016 class decided to make the following donations:

  • $350 to CEO Team 17 for special events
  • $500 to establish an alumni fund for future CEO classes
  • $500 to the Local Wounded Warriors Duck Hunt at Grassy Lake Hunting Club
  • $740 to the CEO advisory board for the program’s general fund

Photo3Grassy Lake Hunting Club owner Collin Cain was on site to be presented a check for the Local Wounded Warriors Duck Hunt by alumni Meghan Smith, Austin Beszczynski, Austin Klasner and Kenzie Conway.

The evening was hosted at Coad of Anna’s Ford building by General Manager Jason Miller.  Be on the lookout for similar events throughout the school year.

Union County CEO is an entrepreneurship program for high school juniors and seniors funded entirely by investments from individuals, businesses and organizations.  More information about the program can be found at UnionCountyCEO.org.

“Hearing Our Hometown Heartbeat” Project Announced By Union County CEO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Hearing Our Hometown Heartbeat”  Project Announced By Union County CEO

ANNA—CEO Team 17 has announced it is partnering with Reppert Publications to fully create, design and develop content for a multipage Union County Pride insert for a February edition of the Gazette-Democrat called “Hearing Our Hometown Heartbeat.”

The Team is soliciting thoughts from the members of the public as to what “Hearing our Hometown Heartbeat” means to them.  Comments shared with Union County CEO may be used in the insert.  What is the heartbeat of your hometown or of Union County—our larger “Hometown”?  Is it our schools?  Is it the relationships between the businesses and the community?  Is it our past, present or future?  What keeps that heart beating?

The specialty advertisements in the insert will be primarily of three types:  Thank yous, from organizations thanking their business sponsors; “Did You Know?” by local businesses or groups sharing something new or overlooked; and “Show Your Union County Pride” from anyone, photos welcome.  Ad sizes range from business card size to a half page and will start at $30.  Comments and advertisements are being taken until December 20 or until the limited space is filled.

CEO Team 17 has already visited or heard from almost 40 businesses leaders throughout Union County and have expressed an awareness of the important role each of those businesses play in the community as well as an appreciation for the beauty of our area and the kindness and generosity of our people.  They feel this insert will be an effective way to share that awareness and appreciation with others.

Those interested in sharing their thoughts about “Hearing Our Hometown Heartbeat” or who would like to discuss a possible ad are asked to contact team member and content chair Erin Dillow at 618-697-8028 or unioncountyceo16@gmail.com.

The Union County CEO Program is a business funded program for high school students in which the students learn entrepreneurship and business life skills through mentors, speakers from the local business community, multiple business visits per week and actual business experience both as a class and individuals.  More information is available at unioncountyceo.org and facebook.com/unioncountyceo.

Union County CEO Program Receives $3500 Grant From U.S. Bank Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Program Receives $3500 Grant From U.S. Bank Foundation

Branch Manager Linda Boone Presents Chairman Rollie Hawk With CEO Grant CheckCOBDEN—As a new school year begins, the Union County CEO Program received a bit of good news in that its grant application to the U.S. Bank Foundation had been accepted.  In fact, the amount awarded was more than expected.

“This was more than we had even requested,” said Union County CEO Chairman Rollie Hawk.  “I’m overwhelmed by U.S. Bank’s generosity to our program and am very thankful for their Cobden branch for helping us to make this happen.  It really shows their commitment to the future of this community.”

Hawk was presented on August 15, 2016 with a grant acceptance letter from the U.S. Bank Foundation and a $3500 check by Glenda Boone, Branch Manager of U.S. Bank in Cobden.

“U.S. Bank is very dedicated to the communities in which we serve,” said Boone.  “The U.S. Bank Foundation is pleased to be a financial supporter of the Union County CEO Program.”

“I personally have enjoyed being involved with the students and wish the very best to the incoming students and the first graduates of the class,” added Boone.

Union County CEO is funded entirely by investments from individuals, businesses and organizations.  More information about the program can be found at UnionCountyCEO.com or by contacting Chairman Rollie Hawk at rhawk@unioncountyceo.com or (618) 925-2470.

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Union County CEO Program Begins 2016-2017 School Year With Orientation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Program Begins 2016-2017 School Year With Orientation

 

Left to Right - Shad Turner - Erin Smith - Aaron Lence - Julian Smith - Dillon Harris - Jessica GlascoANNA—The Union County CEO Program began its second year with an orientation event hosted by Anna-Jonesboro National Bank at their Anna facility on Leigh Avenue.  Students Erin Dillow of Shawnee Hills Christian Academy, Jessica Glasco of A-J High School, Dillon Harris of A-J High School, Aaron Lence of A-J High School, Julian Smith of A-J High School and Shad Turner of A-J High School introduced themselves to parents and board members for the first time as new members of the program.

Parents and StudentsCEO—short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—began several years ago in Effingham County and has since spread to multiple counties throughout the state, including Union.  Students receive two hours of high school credit but instead of being taught in a traditional classroom by teachers, students learn from local business owners and meet every morning in local businesses.

“We are so pleased to be launching this second year of the program with such eager young people.  They know the expectations and are willing to do their very best to get the most out of every opportunity,” explained Facilitator Evelyn Bailey.  “We also look forward to calling upon our business community again to help expose the students to the ins and outs of the business world, the government and the community.”

Stephanie Cox of A-J National presents messenger bags to the class 2Program chairman and IT consultant Rollie Hawk, vice chairman and Union County treasurer Darren Bailey, treasurer and owner of Whitney Accounting Mark Chamness and other board members State Farm agent Bill Ecker, Cobden High School principal Crystal Housman, executive director of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau Cindy Cain, owner of Heartland Gifts Mindy Carter and retired teacher Steve Haldeman led the event by addressing students and parents on the standards of the CEO program as well as answering questions from those in attendance.

“The standards for this program are higher than probably anything you’ve been involved with.  This isn’t a government program paid for with tax dollars.  People like those of us in this room choose to invest thousands of dollars every year just to give young people like you the opportunity to learn things you won’t learn anywhere else,” explained Hawk.  “We know you won’t let us down.”

Stephanie Cox of Anna-Jonesboro National Bank was on hand to present the students with a gift from the bank: messenger bags featuring the CEO logo.

“We are grateful for the Anna-Jonesboro National Bank and Stephanie Cox for hosting our 2017 CEO Orientation,” said Facilitator Evelyn Bailey.  “The students really appreciated receiving their messenger bags and we know they will be put to good use.”

Though the primary focus of the program is on business and entrepreneurship, Chairman Rollie Hawk sees this as a long term solution for many regional issues.

“There’s a real leadership void in southern Illinois.  We’ve all seen it.  Whether it’s in our business community, civic organizations, our churches or local government, there are plenty of people willing to point out the problems but very few willing to step up and lead us to solutions,” says Hawk.  “The CEO program is where we start developing tomorrow’s leaders today.”

Union County CEO is funded entirely by investments from individuals, businesses and organizations.  More information about the program can be found at UnionCountyCEO.com or by contacting Chairman Rollie Hawk at rhawk@unioncountyceo.com or (618) 925-2470.

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Union County CEO Team Ready For Final Step

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

UNION COUNTY CEO TEAM READY FOR FINAL STEP

CEO team members attended a half-day student-run business conference for 800 people in Effingham, IL.  They also heard speakers at the Midland Institute of Entrepreneurship and ate at the FireFly Grill.  Samantha Smith was unable to attend.  From left to right: Adam Jung, Logan Jerolds, MacKenzie Conway, Meghan Smith, Kaitlin McWhorter, Austin Klasner and Austin Beszczynski.
CEO team members attended a half-day student-run business conference for 800 people in Effingham, IL. They also heard speakers at the Midland Institute of Entrepreneurship and ate at the FireFly Grill. Samantha Smith was unable to attend. From left to right: Adam Jung, Logan Jerolds, MacKenzie Conway, Meghan Smith, Kaitlin McWhorter, Austin Klasner and Austin Beszczynski.

JONESBORO—What do a horse, a box of old curling pictures, and mascara have in common?  These are just some of the items featured by the new Union County CEO businesses.

With two thirds of the year behind them, Union County CEO team members—juniors and seniors selected from Union County high schools—are about to launch their own businesses. Some will be showing their products and services at the Union County Business Expo on April 9; all will be at the CEO Trade Show at the Dunn-Richmond Center on April 28.

Many local business people and community leaders have lead by example in the birth of these new businesses.  As of March 1, the students have visited 48 businesses, have heard 19 speakers, and have had 39 visitors.  Among those visitors are 8 business mentor volunteers specifically assigned to have weekly contact with their protégés.  That “visitor” number also includes 16 local professionals who will have reviewed the 6-10-page business plans before CEO team members meet one on one with the loan committee to borrow up to $300 from the money they earned with the class business.

These mentors, speakers, business owners and visitors have all generously given of their time to be the teachers.  This kind of community investment is exactly what will make Union County CEO a long term success.

Students have been helped in some way by every guest, including modeling the personality traits of good leaders like fairness, appreciation, vision, passion, knowledge, integrity, sincerity and high expectations.  From others they have learned specific skills in written, verbal, and electronic communication; marketing; financial considerations; and presentation of self with body language, voice, and professional attire.  Still others have shared their stories of courage and risk, with unlikely paths to success while overcoming failure.  Every person they have met has offered assistance in the future—that is well over 100 adults that they young entrepreneurs can call upon in the future!

Students have met at 7:30-9:00 am every school day all school year, always in a business. The inaugural year of Union County CEO has also included three all day field trips for experiences not available locally, and several meetings with local business groups such as the Union County Women in Business and the Union County Chamber of Commerce.

Union County CEO is completely funded by donations from businesses, individuals and organizations.  Under the direction of the advisory board made up of local leaders, the Union County CEO Program partners with Union County high schools so that juniors and seniors selected for the program earn 2 high school credits.

The ultimate goal is to help these young people to reach their full potential as adults in whatever business they choose to be involved with and to encourage them to return to Union County and our region as future leaders.

For more information, like  Union County CEO on Facebook, follow @unioncountyceo on Twitter or go to UnionCountyCEO.com

Union County CEO Kicks Off 2015-2016 School Year With Orientation Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Kicks Off 2015-2016 School Year With Orientation Event

Back row, left to right - Logan Jerolds, Austin Beszczynski, Dakota Earnhart, Adam Jung, Garrett Micheal Front row, left to right - Meghan Smith, Kaitlin McWhorter, Mackenzie Conway Unavailable for photo:  Adam Klasner, Christopher Knighten, and Hunter Levan.
Back row, left to right – Logan Jerolds, Austin Beszczynski, Dakota Earnhart, Adam Jung, Garrett Micheal
Front row, left to right – Meghan Smith, Kaitlin McWhorter, Mackenzie Conway
Unavailable for photo: Adam Klasner, Christopher Knighten, and Hunter Levan.
Dakota Earnhart
Dakota Earnhart
Garrett Michael
Garrett Michael
Austin Beszczynski
Austin Beszczynski
Adam Jung
Adam Jung
Meghan Smith
Meghan Smith
Mackenzie Conway
Mackenzie Conway
Logan Jerolds
Logan Jerolds
Kaitlin McWhorter
Kaitlin McWhorter

ANNA—The Union County CEO Program began its first full class year with an orientation event on July 2, 2015.  Hosted by Anna-Jonesboro National Bank at its Leigh Avenue branch, this was an opportunity for students, parents, CEO board members and investors to meet and mingle.  More importantly, it was the first opportunity for the program’s new students and facilitator Evelyn Bailey to meet and for this team to officially be introduced to the community.

“There are two fundamental concepts that sold CEO for me from the start,” explained CEO board chairman and investor Rollie Hawk during his introductory remarks.  “First, it’s about teaching young people how to think instead of what to think.  Second, it’s about teaching young people how to solve problems from a business perspective.”

CEO—short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—is a program designed to take a select group students out of the normal school environment for two class periods a day to learn about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship from members of the business community.  The course culminates in a class business the first semester and individual students businesses for the second semester, wrapping up the year with a trade show of all student businesses.

Students from each of Union County’s four high schools applied for openings in the class.  From there, they were chosen blindly by a selection committee, selecting students based on references and a personal narrative.  The committee selected eleven students for this inaugural class.

Board member Ryan Carter presented the students with the standards expected of CEO students, which range from professional dress to being on time and always giving best efforts.

“Any time you are out in the community, you need to be aware that everyone around you is a potential investor,” said Carter.

This is true not only for the students’ individual businesses but the class itself, as CEO is completely funded by investors.  Individuals, local businesses and community organizations willing to give $1000 a year for three years are considered “investors” in the program.

“We’ve had a couple years of collecting funds for this class and businesses have stepped up to make it happen,” said Hawk. “People have chosen to invest in the future of our students and our community with their time, their dollars and their passions.  Communities are struggling to create the next generation’s jobs and the next generation’s leaders.  My hope is we start to find both in these students.”

More information about the Union County CEO Program is available at UnionCountyCEO.com.

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Union County CEO Program Hires Evelyn Bailey As Teacher/Facilitator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO Program Hires Evelyn Bailey As Teacher/Facilitator

JONESBORO—The Union County CEO Program—CEO being short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—reached its final major milestone before starting the complete class for the 2015-2016 school year: filling the teacher/facilitator position.  The program has selected Evelyn Bailey, a respected teacher and an influential member of the business community in Union County.

“I have been following the CEO program since its inception in Union County and am excited to be a part of this unusual and valuable class,” said Bailey.

“When we started our search, there were really three things we were looking for,” explained Union County CEO Chairman Rollie Hawk.  “First, we needed somebody with teaching experience.  Second, we needed someone with a business background.  Third, we wanted someone with ties to the local business community.  We knew it was a tall order but this is what the program was going to need to have its best chance at success.”

In Evelyn Bailey, the program found all three.

“Evelyn is a highly respected teacher and member of the community.  She’s been active in the real estate business for the last several years.  She’s got ties to many businesses thanks to her involvement in the Union County Women In Business,” said Hawk.  “But perhaps even more importantly, she’s been one of the strongest advocates for Union County businesses through the Locally First campaign that she’s helped to spearhead.  I can’t think of anyone more appropriate to manage the teaching side of this program.”

Bailey has heard first-hand the impact that the program has had on students of the program in other communities.

“Having attended the Effingham CEO’s business conference last winter, completely run by the CEO class, I have seen how this program can build confident and capable young adults. You would have thought the current CEO students were halfway through their college years instead of being juniors and seniors.  Several of the alumni on a panel discussion said this is the number one class they would take again if they were to repeat high school.  All had taken time off from their college classes to support the program that served them so well,” said Bailey. “That spoke volumes to me.”

For more information on the CEO Program, visit unioncountyceo.com.

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Union County CEO March Meeting Features a Cross-Section of Local Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Union County CEO March Meeting Features a Cross-Section of Local Businesses

DSCF0198ANNA—It’s not unusual to find high school students at Anna’s The Strike Zone any time the doors are open but this day was different.  Students weren’t there to bowl or play pool but instead to get a look behind the curtain at a very successful, very revenue diverse business in Union County.

DSCF0203“This was a different kind of business than the others we’ve visited this year,” explained Chairman Rollie Hawk.  “We’ve seen all kinds of businesses with different products and services but this one is the first based primarily in the entertainment sector.  That’s a different dynamic than the students have learned about so far.”

DSCF0199The Strike Zone owner and manager Kim Prater and CEO board member and sales expert Ryan Carter led the discussion covering revenue centers, diversifying and the unique challenges of a business that caters to young children, adults and every age in between.

“Between Kim and Ryan, myself, the Midland staff present and even a few students with their own businesses, there was a tremendous amount of business experience in the room that day,” said Hawk.  “Even though we’re all coming from very different business sectors, there was a common thread running through our comments: do your research, know what you are getting into and do as much job shadowing or interning as possible before you take the plunge.  That was one of the main messages for the day that we hope the students left with.”

Something else that made the day special was the number of businesses collaborating behind the scenes.

DSCF0209“In addition to The Strike Zone hosting the class, Anna-Jonesboro National Bank offered to buy lunch.  As a result, Jordo’s Pizza provided pizza, breadsticks and drinks for all in attendance,” added Hawk.  “This is exactly the model I hope CEO can establish here in Union County.  We’ve got some great businesses and great business leaders.  But this kind of cross-pollination and commitment to our students is what’s going to take Union County’s economy to the next level.”

The Union County CEO Program is currently scheduling interviews with potential class teachers.

“We’ve got several highly qualified candidates, each with unique combinations of experience in both academics and business.  I’m looking forward to getting the right person in place and laying the groundwork for next year’s daily class meetings.”

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