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A Publication of WTVP

Dream big and reach your potential. That’s what we tell children growing up and what we tell others when they need a bit of encouragement and inspiration.

That is also the message we are hearing from our country’s business, academic and political leaders. In fact, the president announced the administration’s new Startup America initiative, which aims to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurship and put us on a course to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” This call to action couldn’t come at a better time. Economic conditions are still precarious and global competition will only escalate. Although we maintain our competitive edge, the next generation of American business leaders will need support and inspiration to make their big dreams a reality.

Kids, parents, entrepreneurs, policy makers and community leaders across the country recently commemorated National Entrepreneurship Week, a celebration of American entrepreneurs and the lifelong learning educational opportunities that prepare the business leaders of the future.

Junior Achievement (JA) was a proud participant, promoting entrepreneurship activities to highlight the need for early entrepreneurial education. Young people from across the country have echoed this need. A recent JA poll found that 18 percent of teen respondents would be discouraged from starting their own business because they don’t have the skills or educational background. Additionally, a full 84 percent of students responded that they thought that basic entrepreneurial skills, such as taking initiative and assuming risk should be taught in school. Filling this educational gap is imperative for our country’s future economic growth and standard of living.

The need to both teach and inspire kids about entrepreneurship at an early age is crucial going forward. Recognizing this, business and civic leaders across the country are directing resources and attention to the cause. JA programs have and continue to fill this educational gap and empower the youth of today to become the business leaders of tomorrow. Having a basic knowledge of how a business is created and managed will create a wealth of opportunity for kids, and putting that knowledge and those skills to work will keep this country on track for providing the best standard of living in the world.

A premier local example of Junior Achievement in action—as well as the business and civic leaders I just mentioned—can be experienced on April 29th at Robert Morris University. That is the site of the JA Titan Business Simulation and Hall of Fame Event, presented by OSF Healthcare. Sixty high school students who advanced to the competition by winning their intra-class Titan experience will have an opportunity to earn a share of $5,000 in scholarships and prizes.

During the event, players will plan and execute each aspect of a business, including price, production, marketing, capital investment, and research and development. Students will attempt to reach a balance of supply and demand at an efficient cost of production while competing with each other and other fictional companies. The software will calculate each team’s performance index (PI) based on a weighted measurement of the company’s value and performance. The teams with the highest PI win the game.

At 11:15am, Robert Weaver of Weaver Enterprises, Ltd., a well-known central Illinois entrepreneur, will become a Laureate in JA’s Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Weaver and several of his offspring will share highlights of entrepreneurial endeavors by speaking to and mentoring students. The event is open to the public with an RSVP to the JA office at (309) 682-1800.

You can be speaking to and mentoring students as well, and through Junior Achievement, you can make a difference in the lives of our young people in a natural and dynamic way. Entrepreneurial literacy is a real American necessity, and I encourage each and every one of you to join JA during its Titan Business Simulation and Hall of Fame event and/or in a classroom. Empower young people to succeed. To learn more about Junior Achievement locally, visit JuniorAchievement.biz or dial the office at (309) 682-1800. iBi

Ed Scott is Caterpillar’s corporate treasurer and board chairman of Junior Achievement of Central Illinois.

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