The Churchville-Chili High School students, all aspiring business owners, listened intently to the small business owners and financial experts at the Chili Fitness Center. They wanted to know how these professionals had trained for their careers, what their career paths had been, how they made important business decisions and business plans, where they found financing and guidance, and what the challenges are in owning a business. Students had a chance to question Fitness Center co-owner Maureen Howard, along with co-owner and real estate broker Bill Howard, plus tenants that included a mortgage broker, an architect, a chiropractor, a salon owner and a financial advisor. Financing was discussed with the manager of a local Key Bank.
“All the students are from our business management classes and are focused on entrepreneurship,” said business teacher and Career Education Coordinator Ann Marie Maher. “They were very engaged and took full advantage of the unique chance to connect with so many business owners at once, in one location.”
Students were visiting the Center as part of the district’s participation in National Small Business Week, May 5-11. This is the third year the district has collaborated with Monroe County and ACT for Education in establishing educational partnerships with local small businesses, allowing students to network and learn from a wide variety of business authorities.
The connection with Chili Fitness Center owners Bill and Maureen Howard was established with the help of the high school’s Career Center counselor Sue Martin. Martin’s daughter Courtney owns Infiniti Salon, housed at the Center. Other participants included architect Thomas R. Doughty, Upstate Premier Mortgage’s Kevin Schumann, Prudential Advisors’ Andrew Olbrich and Key Bank manager Caleb Kraft.
“We’re very grateful to all of the business people who have taken time out to speak with our young people,” said Maher. “They are making a lasting impact for our neighborhoods by helping young people become successful, productive community members.”
A Community Together (ACT) for Education is an initiative by public schools in the Monroe 1 and Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES districts, RCSD, area businesses and community members. www.actforeducation.org. Small Business Week is an annual event created by the U.S. Small Business Administration held in recognition of the nation’s top small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as small business advocates and champions. Small businesses are an important part of economic growth in Monroe County. They are also vital supporters of our public schools.
Feature photo: Key Bank manager Caleb Craft spoke about financing and his own personal experiences with exploring business ownership.
This page photo: Chili Fitness Center is owned by Maureen and Bill Howard. Bill Howard spoke at length to students about real estate and developing a multi-use facility like the Center.