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Understanding the BRE Factors


Ewebdzine & Midland Institute

Mr. Brent Emmerich, Owner & Developer

On Tuesday, the Belleville CEO class was visited by Brent Emmerich. He informed the class about the most effective ways to advertise their respective businesses and get their names out there. Layout and appeal of virtually displayed products were also discussed.  His discussion centered around brochure websites, e-commerce websites, and software based websites.  Mr. Emmerich, who is a contract website developer and works with Midland Institute on the CEO classes' websites, said that he has never advertised.  His clients come to him through word of mouth referrals.  He could not stress enough the importance of networking.  Thank you again, Mr. Emmerich, for sharing your knowledge with us.  

Written By Alayna Wells


St. Clair County

Mr. Terry Beach, Executive Director

On Wednesday, the Belleville CEO class met with Mr. Terry Beach at the courthouse to talk about economic development and sustainability in St. Clair County. This information helped the young students because it gave them a sense of what role their business will play in Belleville’s and St. Clair's economy. Mr. Beach said prior to 1970, they would go after the smoke stack companies.  However, they soon realized that Belleville and St. Clair needed a good cross section of small and large businesses.  In order to bring in companies to the St. Clair area, the points that companies look at are:  workforce readiness, quality of life, education, tax structures, business friendly local government, and ready sites (BRE Factors).  Thank you, Mr. Beach, for sharing your knowledge with us on economic and community development in St. Clair County. 

Written By Alayna Wells


Gaslight Vinyl

Mr. Greg Bach, Owner

On Friday, the Belleville CEO class took a trip to Gaslight Vinyl. After a tour of the facilities, we were given practical advice on the hardships of becoming an entrepreneur and how dedicated one must be to their practice to sustain a business.  Gaslight Vinyl started in January 2016 by two brothers, Greg and Brian Bach.  Mr. Greg Bach shared how they struggled to get a loan and ended up getting their business started from a micro lender.  Their customers currently come from word of mouth, Facebook and their contacts through the Chamber of Commerce.  We would like to thank Mr. Bach for sharing his knowledge about car wrapping and spending the morning with us.  

Written By Alayna Wells


Student Journal Highlights for this week

On Monday, our class had a work day.  We received guidelines for our final class project, and I reflected on what I learned this year.  I also thought about goals I accomplished through this class and how it has affected me in other aspects of my life.  It just hit me today how much this class has impacted me.  It has shown me how to start my own successful business and has given me the tools to do it.  CEO class has also provided me with an extensive network of people who are willing to give me advice on how to improve my business.  CEO has also showed me how to be able to approach business people in a manner that makes them forget my young age.  Instead, they respect and listen to my ideas, which is an experience that is usually rare for high school students.

On Wednesday, our class met Terry Beach at the St. Clair County Courthouse.  I learned a lot of new things about economic development.  I discovered that the most successful type of economy has businesses of several varying sizes.  The varying factors allow the economy to remain stable, even through tough recessions.  I also learned more about what an economic developer does.  Mr. Beach talked about his numerous responsibilities.  One of his jobs is to ensure quality of life.  He understands that people want to see parks and new projects underway in their community.  Having a reputation for having good quality of life also increases population, which, in turn, provides businesses with more customers.  More potential customers also betters the area’s economic development.

On Friday, our class went to Gas Light Vinyl to meet Greg Bach.  Mr. Bach taught me that to own a business, you have to have “skin in the game”.  Mr. Bach and his brother have made huge sacrifices to keep their business running, and their hard work pays off.  At first, owners may not see how effective their work ethic is, but if business owners are truly committed, they will start seeing results.  I also learned that it is important to know who your competition is and how you can make your business model unique to bring in customers.  In the business world, being different is a good thing and gives your business one step up from your competition.

This week of CEO featured one work day, one guest speaker, and two class visits. Brent Emmerich came in on Tuesday, we visited Terry Beach on Wednesday, and finally we visited Greg Bach on Friday.

Brent Emmerich is a web designer who currently is working for Midland Institute. He is very experienced and I’m sure Carson would have liked to work with him to make his website. Brent talked to us about how he gets business through word of mouth referrals.  He can successfully use word of mouth because he makes many connections with other people by doing things with the community. He said volunteer work is a great way to build relationships and establish your business. I completely agree with him because as a customer, if I saw a business doing volunteer work I would definitely consider doing business with them over a competitor. We also played a balloon game at the end of his presentation to show us how we get faster to where we want to go in life if we help other people along the way because they will return the favor and help you. He helped us realize this by giving everyone a balloon and making us write our name on it. He then made us hit each other’s balloons around at the end we were timed on how fast we could all find our balloons. Next we did the same thing except we helped each other find our balloons and to no surprise we were much faster when we helped each other.

Terry Beach is the Economic Developer of St. Clair County. Mr. Beach cited a JFK quote while he was speaking that really caught my attention. “Success has 1,000 fathers, but failure is an orphan”. I really liked that quote because if how true it is. I hope to be someone that claims my failures because people respect that. I also don’t want to be the first guy to claim everything that’s successful because people recognize that and lose respect for those people. Mr. Beach also gave us some staggering numbers about the economic impact of Scott Air Force base. He told us SAFB has a 3.1 billion dollar impact on St. Clair County. That number is crazy to me and really makes me appreciate that we have SAFB. The last thing he told us was that working capital is the blood of our businesses. We have heard this a couple times throughout the year but it’s always a good reminder.  

The second to last week of CEO has passed. Things are slowing down as we are heading into the final, year-reflecting presentations next Thursday. I am excited to head into the summer and finish out high school. CEO has truly been a life-changing and an all-around amazing experience. I have learned a lot about the real business world, and the ins and outs of owning my own business. I have learned a multitude of different ways of starting a business. I have heard the struggles, failures, and hardships. I have also heard of great triumphs. I have learned many things this year.

The first is networking is the most important thing in business. It is all about who you know. If you have a wide range of networks, anything is possible in the business world. People are the greatest resource. They will be able to give advice as well as refer customers to you. Another major thing I have learned is the importance of failure. Almost every single business we have talked to has experienced failure in some form. It was extremely eye opening to hear about how failure is necessary to succeed. People need to learn from failure and use those experiences to grow in the future.

On Friday, we met at Gas Light Vinyl. They are a unique business that wraps cars for advertising. They are the only business like it in Belleville. He talked about the importance of having skin in the game to a banker. Essentially skin in the game proves that you are all in and invested heavily in your idea. It is nearly impossible to get a loan without having a lot of skin in the game. I thought it was interesting that they generate ninety-five percent of business from Facebook advertising. That proves the power of social media as advertising. Owning a business is like a roller coaster. Some days it feels like you want to walk away and quit however some days it feels like you are a millionaire. I really liked the building that Gas Light Vinyl is using. It is huge and they have a lot of room to expand. I also like the garage for cars and old signs. I never knew this Business existed, but I am very glad that we visited there. It's unlike any other business we have visited.

As our year in CEO draws to a close I have taken quite a bit of time looking back on all of the lessons we were taught in this program and how I will be able to apply it to my life in college and as the CEO of my business. The most important of these lessons being passion, perseverance, and determination as well as dedication for what you're going to do in your life. These things have been a commonality between all speakers that have presented in front of us at Belleville CEO and have made us better businessmen and women because of their presentations.

Something I’m going to work on in the future is finding the littlest bits of free time that I can spend on my business especially since I’m always so busy doing a million things that I have committed to. I need to learn how to discipline my schedule and write in times to create and plan if I want this business to succeed.

I will also do more research on marketing in college as my advertisement strategy for right now is selling on my Facebook page, I would eventually love to develop a website and put together events surrounding my art as well. I have a bright future in the art world, and armed with the knowledge I received from this program I have one in the business world as well.

In the last week of Belleville CEO I hope to have any questions that I might have had about running a successful business answered and to finish my year strong.

On Friday we met with Mr. Greg Bach at Gaslight Vinyl. This was probably one of my favorite places we have visited this year.  Not only was the Vinyl wrapping really interesting but I also enjoyed Mr. Bach speaking to us a lot, because he was probably one of the most down to earth speakers we have.  There are a lot of great people in the business world, but as one could imagine a lot of these people may come off as rather pretentious.  But Mr. Bach was just really down to earth, and was very humble and did not put himself on a pedestal.

Cole Maul

Cole Maul
Sunday, May 7, 2017Learn More About Cole

This week for CEO, the class met with Brent Emmerich, Terry Beach, and Greg Bach. Brent is a web designer who works with Midland to create the CEO websites. Terry Beach is the Executive Director of St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department. And lastly, Greg Bach is the owner of Gaslight Vinyl, a brand new company in the Belleville Area.

Brent Emmerich’s presentation was very interesting. His main job is creating and operating websites for businesses. He started this as a side job, but quit his other job once he realized he could make web designing a career. I really found it interesting in how he started. He made his school's website just by trying and with no experience. He was not afraid to try new things and ended up making a career out of it. He also gave us some really good advice about web sites for our businesses. For me personally, he said to wait for a website to leave room for company growth. He said 3rd parties like Amazon or Etsy would be the best option for me.

We also met with Terry Beach, and his job is essentially to create jobs for the St. Clair area. One thing I really got out of his presentation was things to consider when creating a business with an actual building. If I need to ship a lot of product for instance, I will want a location with easy access to highways or waterways. Or if I have a small shop for people to enter, I'll want an area with a lot of foot traffic. If I plan on having a lot of employees, I'll want to find an area with quality workers who are available. These are things I never would have thought of before.

Lastly, we met with Greg Bach, who just started his own vinyl wrapping company. The main thing he really stressed was the difficulty to get a loan. He told us to start saving now, because you'll need collateral in order to even have a chance of getting a loan. We also got an incredible tour of his facilities. It was crazy to see how much space they had and how they utilized it. They really used their lobby to create an atmosphere that fits their business as well. This is important as it helps people really connect with your business.

Overall it was a really great week. Any days we didn't meet with a business leader, we worked on our upcoming presentations. With only one more week left, we have to reflect on the past year. This week was one of many with great advice and insight from successful business leaders.

Tim Donaho

Tim Donaho
Sunday, May 7, 2017Learn More About Tim

Another week of CEO has passed. This week was the thirty-fifth week of class. This week consisted of one workday, two business visits, and one presentation. After this week there is only one more week left of class. This has been a long school year with a lot of trials, and difficulties. Going into senior year based off of peers who have graduated I expected my senior year to be quick, and easy. But this year has been anything but easy to say the least. Although this year wasn't “easy”, I can't complain because in the things that I have failed to do I have learned from those mishaps, and decisions. In the end I am glad I took this class but, I wish I would have been more dedicated the whole way through.

Tuesday, our presenter was Brent Emmerich. Brent Emmerich is a part of Midland Institute. He taught the class about practical everyday things a modern day entrepreneur has to do for themselves, and maintaining a business website. He talked about the different types of websites, as well as explaining ways to increase your internet exposure.

On Wednesday we met with Terry Beach, Executive Director, St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Dept. at the St. Clair County Courthouse.  I really liked meeting in the county boardroom. It was pretty cool seeing another part of the court I haven't seen before. It's not often that I have to go the courthouse so it was nice to take a short visit.  One thing that he said that stood out to me was that growth follows infrastructure.

On Friday, we met at Gas Light Vinyl Tour with Greg Bach. He talked about how he used to work for AT&T in marketing and how when he first started his business he had to do without a lot of things.  I would say this is one of my favorite business visits. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of Mr. Bach’s business and how real he was with our class about the ups and downs of having your own business. I liked that he didn't sugar coat anything. He stressed saving your money, and understanding that you will have to sacrifice to grow.

This week was our second to last week of CEO. On Tuesday we met with Brent Emmerich from Midland Institute.   He focused a lot on computers and websites. Something that stuck with me was that the United States only makes but 8 and ½ percent of the total worldwide internet user population. Before hearing this I really thought the U.S used the internet the most. Most of the population is sucked in by Internet use. Especially with smartphones as the main cell phone. We are addicted to our phones. Also, only 40% of the world’s population has access to internet. We do almost everything through the internet. Nowadays people wouldn't know how to survive without the Internet it's our life line.

On Wednesday we met with Terry Beach, the Executive Director of St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Dept.  He focused a lot on how much new stuff is going on around not only Belleville, but St. Clair County. They are especially focusing on around East St. Louis and the highways by the racetrack by there. It’s crazy how much money they can get from grants and such. Their top growth areas is I-64 corridor to Scott widening to six lanes, Rieder Road for a new exit, IL Route 15 in Belleville, and Belleville east end. For the River Bridge District is spending $8 million on street rebuilding and agri-business and such. Scott Air Force base is 60% of the population. Without Scott there wouldn't be much of any business at all.

On Friday we met at Gas Light Vinyl in Belleville with Greg Bach. The store was so cool. It was old and really cool with all the art. In the back there was a bunch of old cars and the building being old it had really cool architecture. He has only been in business for like a year and a half and their business is about to go booming. Within around a 20 mile distance he’s the only place that does vinyl wrapping. This next week is our last week of school and CEO. We have our final presentation.

This week in our CEO class we started it off with beginning our presentations for the final two days of class in CEO when we present them to the board. It is insane that we are finishing up this year of CEO when it feels as if yesterday we had problems trying to just get a badge made and had no idea the difficulty that laid ahead for us. The badge project was useful for us to get a dry run on getting sponsors and helping us learn how to work with each other.

On Tuesday we met with Brent Emmerich who told us about the importance of companies having a website and explaining to us how these companies can advertise on the Internet and the best ways to do that. I found it really interesting on how google adwords work and that they only charge the advertiser when someone clicks on the ad which I think is an awesome idea. He also talked to us about the price of designing website and I was astounded how much money it was but he explained that people should wait until they can afford for 10% of the revenue from last year invested in. He also said the most effective way to get customers is by being helpful and involved in the community.

On Friday our class met with Greg Bach at Gaslight Vinyl. The company does professional wrappings on cars and basically anything else and he showed us through the process of it. I thought it was really awesome that these guys are already looking to expand and that they can basically wrap anything like their phones or an xbox one. They are in that stage most entrepreneurs know when they are eating ramen noodles every night and working till 12 or 2 in the morning because they need to hustle hard to stay afloat. It was amazing listening to him talk about being in this stage of his business.

All good things come to an end. This perhaps isn't an abrupt ending but certainly is the closing of the CEO chapter. This week we visited Gas Light Vinyl, the courthouse and worked on our presentations for the conclusion of this course. I somehow am still managing to get something from this class every day and I'm sure it will be this way past May 12th.

While at Gas Light Vinyl, Greg Bach started up his own vinyl wrap company. With the thinking process of an entrepreneur, Greg and his brother risked everything several years ago to open their own shop. I like how blunt Greg was with us this past week.  He didn't sugarcoat anything and admits opening a business is extremely hard. When talking about start up costs and expenses, Greg couldn't get a loan because he didn't have any “skin in the game.” What he means by that is bankers and loan officers want to see that you as a person are totally invested in your business so that they are assured they'll get their money back.

The time is flying, with our last week of CEO, many things are rolling through my head. I am still in awe that a high school class could have changed my life. I have met new friends, networked with business leaders in our area and had a lot of real world experience. For those investors reading this, I would like to say thank you not only for investing our program but also investing in me. CEO has helped me decide what I want to do with my life and many new skills. For instance, before I enrolled in CEO I had a hard time talking to adults and such. Now I'm a entirely different person and chomping at the bit when it comes to business talk. Thank you CEO for investing in our community but also the students in it.   Thank you, Austin


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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Belleville CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 22 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 27 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.


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Antwan Stith - Belleville CEO

Antwan Stith

About Me

I am currently a senior at Belleville West High School. A close associate suggested that I join CEO to further my business education.

Outside of school, I work at the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis. I also volunteer frequently with my church and at the Fairmont City Library. I was also the founder of a landscaping company over this past summer, and hoping to expand in the future. During my free I play lacrosse and do mixed martial arts. While doing mixed martial arts, I have been lucky enough to travel to Africa and Nicaragua.  

I plan to expand my business or start a new one using the connections and business skills that I will receive from this class while pursuing a degree.

           


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