APS Column: The Mower County CEO Trade Show

Published 5:41 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

By Emily Hovland

In the fall of 2018, a select group of juniors and seniors from Austin Public Schools and Pacelli Catholic Schools kicked off the inaugural class of the Mower County Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program.

The CEO program gives students the opportunity to learn about what it takes to start and run a small business from our own local business owners. Students raise money through various class projects and then receive a grant to start their own small businesses which are then highlighted in an end-of-year CEO Trade Show, which this year will be held on Wednesday, May 25, from 4-7 p.m. at Packer Arena.

This year, 21 students took part in the Mower County CEO program. They were able to connect with our business partners and develop mentor relationships which helped them to grow both personal and professionally. Through informative presentations, business tours, and mentorship sessions, our students have developed connections that will last a lifetime. We’ve welcomed a list of successful individuals to class to share their stories, their expertise, and their wisdom, and we’ve watched our students grow and mature throughout the year while learning many real-world lessons.

This year’s CEO students have visited more than 50 businesses and gathered business ideas from many guest speakers. The students raised money through the creation of sponsored ID badges and Midnight at the Masquerade, a murder-mystery themed fundraising event held at the Historic Hormel Home earlier this year.

Students have worked with their mentors to build their business plans, start those businesses, and develop a network of business professionals who are incredibly supportive and eager to help the students succeed.

Again, we hope you will join us next week on Wednesday, May 25, from 4-7 p.m. at Packer Arena for the 2022 Mower County CEO Trade Show. Our students have been working hard all year to get their businesses up and running, and this is an amazing chance to support our students. This event is free and open to all.

We are excited about the experiences these students have had and are looking forward to next year. We’d also like to thank the Austin community for their support and the continued opportunities for our students and businesses to connect.