CEO show set for Sunday

May 12—This year has been one of adjustment for the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program. The original program facilitator Bill Turner retired and Joe Cummings took over the program that teaches students about business.

On Sunday that year of adjustment goes on display for the public at the annual CEO trade show from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the community building at the Washington Eastside Park.

"This will be the compilation of these 20 fantastic students that put their businesses together and have spent a lot of time and effort on it," said Cummings. "Some of them have already sold some products. Some set up displays at the Springfest earlier this month. It has really been a blessing to see these guys evolve and get out and talk with adults and put themselves out there. I think people will be surprised."

One of the big things that tends to happen during the CEO class is that the students learn to become more confident and conversant. Cummings says that is something he noticed as the year progressed.

"These kids have opened up," he said. "The first couple of classes they were quiet, like church mice. They become willing to put themselves out there and welcome guest speakers and ask very intuitive questions."

Once again, this year the students got a chance to visit businesses and talk with business leaders throughout the community and the area.

"The thing to me is how welcoming these businesses are and we have been out to see a lot of different things and had a lot of speakers come in," said Cummings. "People contact us and want our class to come out. I am 61 and have been in business and lived here all of my life and I was surprised at some of the businesses that we have in the community."

Cummings says he has a background as both a small businessman and a teacher, but being the facilitator for the CEO program required yet a different approach.

"I had to lead the kids and then let them go," said Cummings. "It is not total direction all of the time. It has been very good. I have truly enjoyed it. Bill Turner has been a big help. I just tried to add to the program while keeping a lot of what has been here all along."

At the park people will see that the students have come up with a wide variety of products and business ideas including some food products.

"We have all kinds of baked goods, some cotton candy makers, snow cones. We have one kid that is selling chickens and eggs. We have one that makes leather wallets, one making wood products, a boy using a 3D printer to make cell phone cases. We even have one young man who has put together a rental property business," said Cummings. "We have a girl that is doing photography, a few bakers, another girl that redoes clothes using bleach. We have a girl doing lip balms and another doing soap, and one doing ear rings."

This year's class of 20 students was one of the largest for the local CEO program. It included students from Washington, Washington Catholic and Barr-Reeve.

"This has definitely been a good year," he said. "We are so appreciative to the local community that has embraced us. It is truly eye-opening, and it has been a pleasure to see them grow as people."

Students have begun signing up for next years class and it will also include students from North Daviess and Pleasantville School.