SIU Hosts High School CEO Trade Show - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SIU Hosts High School CEO Trade Show

The Edible Book Festival is returning to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale this April. (Source: KFVS) The Edible Book Festival is returning to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale this April. (Source: KFVS)

Carbondale, IL. - High school students from around the region are trying their hand at entrepreneurship courtesy of a workshop and trade show from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Office of Economic and Regional Development and Center for Innovation. 

The teens will showcase the new businesses they have created at the High School CEO Trade Show from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on April 28 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. The public is welcome. Just as with a major trade show, those attending will be able to visit the various booths, talk to the business owners and learn more about the companies.

The trade show is the culmination of months of effort and preparation by high school students from Jackson, Perry, Randolph and Union counties.  They, as well as students from Williamson and Saline counties who are having a separate trade show on the same date at the Williamson County Pavilion in Marion, were chosen through an application process to participate in the six county high school CEO programs. Special CEO boards within each county oversee the programs. 

Through the program, the high school juniors and seniors have learned about business concepts, creation and development. A final training workshop on April 6 at the Dunn-Richmond center will give the students a chance to view the trade show location; network with other students, economic development experts and business owners; and learn more about trade shows, elevator pitches, proper attire, presentations and displays. 

“Our office is delighted to host the CEO Trade Show for several of the counties that have High School Entrepreneurship programs,” Kyle L. Harfst, director of economic development for SIU, said. “In going through this process, students have refined their elevator pitches, prepared budgets for their booths and designed their trade show displays. Ultimately, they will need to ‘close the sale,’ providing them with real world experience as to what it is like to own your own business and utilize a trade show to sell your products and services.” 

The SIU Office of Economic and Regional Development endorses the CEO programs that are being created at high schools throughout the region. The CEO programs are based on the Effingham CEO program, now called the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship. The programs are actually taught in the classrooms but the business community in each county supports the programs and provides mentoring. 

“I view this not only as an educational activity, but as a long-term economic development strategy. Keeping young, talented individuals in the region is critical to economic growth,” Harfst said. 

For more information, contact Kyle Harfst at 618/453-3427 or by email atharfst@siu.edu

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