Montgomery County CEO Seeks Students For Program


The Montgomery County Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) board is seeking young students for their program.

The program is called CEO because the program, which began in 2015-2016, has helped more than 60 high school seniors to Create Entrepreneurial Opportunities.

Students who join the program, will learn about starting, managing and maintaining businesses by touring companies throughout Montgomery County. 

They listen and ask questions of business people on topics that range from incorporation and tax laws to regulations, employee management, marketing, sales and more.

They develop and present class business plans to a "Shark Tank," and then implement the "winning" business that provides seed money for each individual startup. 

The capstone experience of the program is that each CEO develops   his or her own business plans to develop products or services to be featured at a trade show in May. They each present their concept to bankers, who then recommend how much, if any, seed money each business should receive.

These students have ranged in academic ability from straight-A valedictorians to C students. Some have been outgoing and outspoken, while others have been quiet and introspective.

Students' businesses have ranged from writing, illustrating and publishing a book, to aerial photography, to landscaping, to custom-cut and painted metal signs, to first-aid kits and graphic design. 

Additional businesses have included a D.J. service, hand-crafted jewelry, custom engraving on metal and glass, lawn care and maintenance, beef cattle backgrounding, conservation plantings and care, scented candles, frozen yogurt, snow cones, fast food delivery, music lessons and much more. The businesses are as varied as their individual personalities and interests.

The students also share a few traits, including being independent or a desire to be independent, honest, trustworthy and hardworking at the things they choose to do.

Teachers who see students in their classroom who have these traits, should encourage them to apply during their junior year. The online application process for the class of 2021 is open now at, and is due by Friday, March 13. Students will need to have one academic reference, which could be a teacher, coach, administrator or class sponsor, as well as one non-related personal reference.

For those who know of any students who are seventh or eighth graders, or freshmen, sophomores or juniors, whom would love to do their own thing, encourage them to look into Montgomery CEO and plan their courses so they are able to apply.

CEO Facilitator Ryan Follis and current CEOs will visit high schools in the coming weeks. For those who have questions about the program or would like to draw attention to a particular student or students, contact Follis at or call him at 217-556-6620 or email Heather Hampton+Knodle at or call her at 217-538-2171.


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