More than 150 Waupaca High School juniors invaded the Waupaca Recreation Center on March 20.
The occasion was a one-day version of the program, Business World, presented by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.
Business World, or more accurately in this case, Mini Business World, is an intensive exercise in entrepreneurship.
Sixteen teams, each comprised of six to ten randomly assigned students, formed for the competition.
They were welcomed by WMC’s Steve Benzschawel, who outlined the schedule for the day: name your company, invent a product, elect a CEO and other company officers, design a logo, prepare marketing materials, write a mission statement, vision and value statements and then make a presentation to the entire assembly.
The students had until 2 p.m. that day to finish, and the day also included contests and lunch.
Guidelines limited the students to the sports and recreation industry, which proved to be not at all limiting.
Products ranged from high-tech sunglasses to multi-purpose athletic shoes with interchangeable soles to vitamin-enhanced sunblock cream that provides rejuvenating properties to athletes via their pores.
There were improved balls, gloves, underwear and photo equipment for sports ranging from ping-pong to fencing.
Some of the products were amusing. Some were inspirational.
The students’ ability to become a cohesive, productive unit so quickly was no surprise to the WMC staff but was awe-inspiring for the Chamber staff and volunteers.
Under the auspices of the non-profit WMC Foundation, Business World has taught and trained college-bound young people for more than 30 years and boasts more than 14,000 alumni from the four-day summer programs.
The one-day “mini” programs began in 2011.
The purpose of Business World is to educate the future workforce about business and the state of Wisconsin and its products.
Students learn about different business models, such as luxury, mass merchandising and analytical merchandising. They learn the importance of matching company communications and marketing decision to product category and company image.
The finance department analyzes data dealing with the cost of doing business and communicates with other departments. They see the importance of environmental responsibility, charitable giving and community involvement.
Department heads have regular strategy meetings, and every student is involved in developing their product and the presentation to the whole group at the end of the day.
A regular part of Business World fun includes “The Smartest Guy in the Room,” a game conducted by Foundation Director Jim Morgan.
A series of questions about Wisconsin’s economy, employment picture, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism industries eliminates incorrect answers and culminates with a prize for the last person standing.
The whole assembly also participated in a game of “The Price is Right,” also featuring many Wisconsin products.
Lunch for the students was provided by Chain Bar & Grill, the Wheel House, Weasel’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, The Filling Station, Mama Z’s Bakery & Java Hut, Piggly Wiggly and Pick ‘N’ Save.
Soft drinks and refreshments were compliments of the Chamber.
The Mini Business World was the first such effort in Waupaca, but according to Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce President Terri Schulz, “We are hoping to make this a regular event. It is a wonderful opportunity for the kids. It’s such a great way to learn. We want everyone to have this opportunity.”
Schulz said the program had some costs and was made possible by local sponsors including ThyssenKrupp-Waupaca, Farmers State Bank, 1st National Bank, Klismet’s Three Squares, Neuville Motors, RE/MAX Shambeau & Lyons, United Country-Udoni & Salan Realty, Waupaca Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber Ambassadors.
For more information about Business World, call the Business World office at 888-276-7953, ext. 2 or visit it online at www.WiBusinessWorld.org.
The Waupaca Area Chamber can be reached at 715-258-7343 or throught its website at www.WaupacaAreaChamber.com.