Tiffin Columbian High School senior Andrew Engle was thrilled Wednesday when his regular school day involved playing a business-simulation game and hanging out with hundreds of other area students and local representatives from area businesses.
“This is more like a hobby, but I’ve given it a thought, and it’s definitely good for the future as well,” Mr. Engle, 18, of Tiffin, said.
The young man was among the 1,500 area students on hand for a hands-on Junior Achievement of Northwest Ohio exhibit in the Glass City Center in downtown Toledo. Junior Achievement of Northwest Ohio is a nonprofit organization that works to educate young people about free enterprise, business, and economics.
About 60 local businesses took part in the event, which was titled JA Inspire and featured a business-simulation game where competitors had to make a business decision every five minutes. Mr. Engle’s team placed third in the regional finals of the competition.
The game time represented three years of the operations of a cell phone company, with a goal to maximize its profitability.
The team’s strategy, he said, was to borrow as much money as possible and price the products low. By doing that, his team undercut competitors and turned around what was initially a poor performance.
“It was a pretty big comeback. It was definitely awesome,” Mr. Engle said, beaming with satisfaction as he was about to step away from a computer terminal and into the crowd.
As a third-place regional-finals business-challenge winner, he gets to compete in a national JA business challenge competition online next week.
The team competed against six other finalists. All of the participants had already received a $1,000 check toward college expenses, from Junior Achievement of Northwest Ohio, according to event organizers.
While several students were busy playing the business simulation game, hundreds of other area junior-high and high-school students engaged with business leaders who were on hand with virtual reality and other interactive activities during the day-long event.
Dillon Kaun, 13, spent at least 10 minutes with representatives from the Collaborative Inc. who had architecture-planning-and-design activities including a three-dimensional virtual reality exhibit. Young Mr. Kaun could essentially take a tour of a designed, but yet-to-be constructed building, where he could utilize virtual reality controllers wearing a virtual reality headset.
“I thought it was really cool – being able to go in and view what they were planning on building before they had it built,” the Bedford Junior High School student said, adding that he plans to study architecture or automotive design when he graduates from high school.
“That’s my favorite [business stand], because it kind of connects me with what I am going to do in design and manufacturing,” Mr. Kaun said. “It’s [also] so cool being able to go around and see all the jobs that we have in the Toledo area.”
It was the sentiment organizers had hoped for with the 11th annual event, which culminated weeks of the JA classroom curriculum and was co-sponsored by Mercy Health.
Jim Pollock, president of Junior Achievement of Northwest Ohio, addressed business representatives before the students arrived.
“You cannot be what you cannot see… and today is about making connections,” Mr. Pollock said.
In addition to Mr. Pollock, other local business leaders who addressed the group included Matt Sapara, Mercy Health vice president in charge of business development and advocacy; Kadee Anstadt, Washington Local Schools superintendent, and Christine Sweeney, the Art Tatum Zone executive director.