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Editorial: Good idea to build business leaders

Willmar businesses have long been led by a variety of entrepreneurs. One Willmar business person is now looking to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.


 Heritage Bankshares Group chairman Gary Geiger is looking to start a Willmar-area branch of the “Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities” program.


 The CEO program enables high school juniors and seniors to meet every day before school with local business mentors. The students learn “hands-on experiences,” such as creating business plans, how to pitch their ideas and how to manage their own businesses.


 The CEO program is a project of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, which is an organization seeking to help communities grow their own entrepreneurs and, in turn, grow the local economy and businesses. One of the program goals is to encourage students to attend college and then return to their hometowns to start a business.


 Geiger is hoping to launch a Willmar-based branch of the program in the fall of 2014. He is currently seeking 50 Willmar-area businesses to be program sponsors. These businesses will commit $1,000 a year to the program and to being involved as mentors, speakers or a host site.


 This is a proactive effort to help identify young people interested in entrepreneurship and developing their own business. The key is to help these young people develop skills and guidance to build toward their business goals.


 Business leaders interested in learning more and/or participating cancontact Geiger at 320-212-7416 or email


 This is a positive program investing in the future of the Willmar-area community.