By Brant Mackey

Recently it was my pleasure to visit the Sangamon CEO class as a guest speaker. I spent more than 30 minutes attempting not to bore them with tips to better connect with the media in Springfield.

In this case CEO stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. The program is a partnership between the local business and education communities. The class is comprised of seniors from local high schools who are spending the school year exploring their entrepreneurial interests by directly connecting with the Springfield business community. In addition, they are tasked with creating both a class and individual business and all of the trials that come with doing so.

The bigger picture is that if we can cultivate young peoples’ ideas and talents right here in Springfield, they will stay here to contribute to the local economy and create a more sustainable community for the future.

The program is the brain-child of Craig Lindvahl, an educator in Effingham and was initially brought to Springfield by Jay Cook of Marine Bank. From there a number of prominent lo-cal business people became involved ensuring its success.

Over the summer 50 investors from the local business community were acquired at $1,000 each; student applications were received, reviewed and 18 selected; an instructor, Stephanie Hinds, was hired and classes started this fall.

Overall, I was generally impressed with the students. They were polite, attentive and seemingly anxious to learn about how it works in the real business world. However, I was in awe when the first question a student asked at the end of my presentation was, “What is newsworthy?” I have rarely found business leaders who have the savvy to jump to the ‘gold standard’ of journalism so quickly. Admittedly, I was caught off guard and could have given him a better answer.

This year’s Sangamon CEO class business project is The Santa Run/Walk 5K; Be a Claus, Run for a Cause. It will be held on Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. It is $35 for adults, $25 for children and will serve as drop point for Toys for Tots. For more information on how to support these students with their Santa Run or in another way you may visit

Brant Mackey


Brant Mackey is publisher and editor of Springfield Business Journal.