Two local school districts came home with awards recognizing their business acumen at an international trade fair that helps young people learn essential entrepreneurial skills of innovation, strategy, and marketing. Students from Alexander and Lyndonville Central Schools were delighted that their virtual businesses and their related marketing initiatives received honorable mentions at the 7th Annual Virtual Enterprise (VE) International Trade Fair held in New York City on April 1, 2004. One hundred high schools, colleges, and adult classes from around the world participated and competed in four business categories, networked with business leaders, and marketed and promoted their own business ventures. With virtual companies hailing from across New York State and as far away as southern California, Romania, and Austria the teams represented a wide-range of different business enterprises and competed in the following categories: 1. Best Web Design2. Best Catalog3. Best Booth Display4. Best Sales Techniques
Visitors to the VE Trade Fair were given a total of $3,000 virtual dollars to spend on any one of 100 different business entities that were displaying virtual products or services, and implementing dynamic sales and marketing plans all aimed for success. As the day progressed, the sales earnings were deposited by each virtual company treasurer into the VEC Bank managed by Deloitte and Touche, a national firm volunteering to provide accounting services.
Students from Alexander Central School created "BNI" or "Bare Necessities Inc.," a virtual business which provides survival kits for everyday needs. A Caffeine Kit, College Kit, and a Catastrophe Kit were among the options with different sizes and prices available online for various situations. It was the BNI website that earned the students an honorable mention.
"The trade fair was a wonderful experience for the students not only in a business sense, but also in a cultural and social sense," Randy Palladino, Economics Teacher at Alexander Central Schools. "The students from Alexander had to communicate and conduct business transactions with students from a wide variety of social, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds that they do not have the opportunity to do within their community." Palladino added that BNI made a significant amount of virtual money and noted that the company's award winning website can be viewed at www.alexandercsd.org/bni. Students from Lyndonville High School developed "M3 - Movies, Music, and More" as their virtual enterprise, with opportunities to easily purchase a wide range of electronic entertainment media. The Lyndonville group received honorable mention for best booth, which cleverly illustrated the virtual company's numerous media options. The website for M3 can be accessed at www.velyndonville.org
"The kids (from Lyndonville) were thrilled about receiving their honorable mention," Cathie Hogan, Lyndonville Entrepreneurial Class Instructor said. "We thank Tech Prep at Genesee Community College for getting the GLOW schools organized and into this program."
Between both school districts, 25 GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming County) students had the opportunity to visit New York City and experience the Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair. In addition to the extensive learning opportunities provided by the Virtual Trade Fair, students also acquired important fund raising skills to help pay for their travel expenses. From holding raffles, earning monies through candy and beverage sales, planning special events to collect proceeds, and requesting donations from local businesses?students in both schools participated in fund raising.
The Virtual Enterprise Program (VEP) is supported, in part, by College Tech Prep, a federally funded program operated by Genesee Community College with the goal to help students make a smooth transition from high school to college. College Tech Prep currently works with 19 high schools in the GLOW county region offering a wide range of programs to encourage student interest in college and enhance their career development. Six other high schools in the GLOW area participate in the other aspects of VEP, which included a regional Trade Fair at Genesee Community College last December.
"Over the entire semester, students explore all the finer elements of entrepreneurialism and business success with their own Virtual Enterprise as a hands-on learning opportunity," Kathy Lopes, Director of the Genesee Region College Tech Prep program at Genesee Community College said. "We are very proud of the students who competed on the international level and commend them for their success. I can't imagine a more rewarding learning opportunity, which undoubtedly will help fuel their future success in real business enterprises."
For further information on the Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair or Genesee Region College Tech Prep, please contact Kathy Lopes, Director, or Debbie Dunlevy, Technical Specialist at 585-343-0055 extension 6629 or 6316. You may also contact Randy Palladino of Alexander Central Schools at (585) 591-1551.
A group photograph of the Alexander students in New York City promoting their Virtual Enterprise, "BNI or Bare Necessities, Inc." is available by clicking to the following Internet location: