Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 30, 2013

Schools vie for entrepreneurship program

Area students could get chance to start their own businesses

Seven area school districts are hoping to soon launch an entrepreneurship program that challenges students to create their own businesses to solve community problems.

Kokomo School Corp. Superintendent Jeff Hauswald just submitted the application to become a part of the Illinois-based Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program that launched five years ago.

“It’s been highly successful,” he said.

He should know within a month if the Kokomo area was chosen. About 20 different school districts across the country have applied for one of four available spots, he said.

Businesses, organizations and schools throughout the area are already on board with the project and are hoping this area is chosen, Hauswald said.

“This class is very valuable,” he said. “What our students learn this year may provide jobs. We may be working for them some day. Economically speaking, our students can help grow our economy with their business ventures.”

It’s a program that’s funded by business investors and is open to high school juniors and seniors. About 20 students are selected through a rigorous application process.

Here it would be available to students in Western, Eastern Howard, Taylor, Tri-Central, Northwestern, Kokomo and Southeastern schools as well as any schools that participate in the Kokomo Area Career Center.

A two-credit class would meet for about two hours every day with area businesses serving as the classrooms. Students would visit dozens of businesses, industries and government operations during the year, the superintendent said.

They would learn about things like creating business plans and managing finances.

Every student would then be challenged to create his or her own business, and they would have a mentor from the business community to help them.

Community First Bank CEO Mike Stegall said he believes the community needs this program. The more he learned about it, the more passionate he became.

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