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Turning students to CEOs in Mower County The Austin Chamber of Commerce is taking an innovative, collaborative approach to entrepreneurship development and talent retention in Mower County. Chamber Executive Director Sandy Forstner says a program called Mower CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) is in the development stages. The goal is to launch in September of 2018.

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The program, which strives to connect local businesses and area schools to create project-based experiences for students, is already up and running in several communities around Minnesota. The Mower CEO development committee held a meeting for business owners and managers in late September. The program aims to provide funding, expertise, meeting space, business tours and one-onone mentoring. The ultimate goal is to have students develop, launch and operate their own businesses in Mower County. The Hormel Foundation is funding the launch of the program. Ongoing operational expenses will be picked up by community investors and any business that is started as part of the program. Austin and Pacelli high schools have committed to offering the program to junior and seniors beginning in September 2018. The committee is in the process of recruiting businesses to participate and partner with the schools. If interested in learning more about Mower CEO, contact the Chamber at 1-507-437-4561. The CEO Program comes out of the Illinois-based Midland Institute. For more information on CEO, visit | 49

Forge October 2017  
Forge October 2017