I have had the opportunity to be involved in Business Horizons, a week-long program organized by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry Foundation. Business Horizons will be held July 17-21 at Central College. The annual event brings over 100 Iowa high school students together to engage in real-world experiences with life-changing results.
The idea behind Business Horizons is to show young people that opportunities for future careers in all walks of life, including starting a business, do exist in Iowa. One of the greatest challenges facing Iowa is that our young people are moving out of state after college. The Business Horizons program addresses that issue. In addition, students are able to earn two semester hours of college credit by attending the program and writing a follow-up paper. These credits look great on a college, scholarship or job application.
Central College is also pleased to announce that any student who participates in Business Horizons and applies, is admitted and chooses to attend Central, will be guaranteed a $1,500 scholarship, renewable for four years. This scholarship is in addition to academic and talent-based scholarships already awarded by the college, not to exceed tuition.
Last year, Business Horizons began with Iowa sculptor and poet, David Williamson, who addressed the students on creativity and entrepreneurship. Students were placed on teams and each team was asked to select objects from a table and build a prototype of a product. The challenge was that each object they chose could no longer be used for its original purpose, i.e. a vacuum cleaner was no longer a vacuum cleaner or a computer monitor was no longer a computer monitor. It was creative chaos ... and fun. Teams were given a short period of time to create a product, with their only ‘tool’ being duct tape. They also had to come up with a catchy name for their product, determine a price, and consider who their target market might be. Students spent the remainder of the week developing their products. At the end of the week they gave presentations to potential investors and created a television infomercial.
Students also visited real businesses, many of them small-town entrepreneurs. This experience provided prime examples of entrepreneurs who start a business and operate it successfully in a typical Iowa community. It also gave the students an awareness and appreciation of businesses in their own towns and inspired them to learn more about those businesses.
Business Horizons encourages students to be creative, to look “outside the box” and come up with innovative ideas. The experience is enhanced through a business simulation, which enables student groups to run a business through a 2 ½ -year business cycle. They develop marketing and business plans, learn to work as a team and make long-lasting friendships.
Returning in 2016 is a media track where interested students will learn about the world of media and communications. In addition to listening to the large group speakers, M-Track students will learn about social media, write and edit news stories, develop a website and learn how to design and produce a newspaper.
Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, counselor or business leader, I encourage you to visit www.business horizonsiowa.com. Business Horizons provides a unique opportunity for Iowa high school students to gain preparatory experience for their future roles as potential Iowa leaders. Iowa’s “Fields of Opportunities” begin in our own back yard.