GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – Students at the Greenup County Area Technology Center are not only learning job skills, they are now starting their own small businesses.
“It gives them the confidence that they can see their idea, turn it into something tangible, and it really creates a structure that our community can build on,” said Anthony Thompson, director of GCATC.
Thompson challenged each technology center program to create its own business model, which they call the GCATC Market Place.
“I’ve seen a lot of students really grow. The light bulb went on,” said Commerce and Marketing Instructor Cheryl Wellman.
Students design and sell their own products that they make in class. Some of them include: the welding program making medal signs, the agricultural construction creating a turkey call, the electrical store converting a shipping container into a mobile coffee bar, the automobile class offering a center full service and the commercial department has a vinyl store making tumblers, shirts, keychains, etc.
“You can come in and get your oil changed for a good price and have your tires rotated and those kinds of light auto repairs,” Thompson said.
The key to the whole process is the trade department. Everything is handled by them, from marketing to graphic design and finance management.
“They write every check, they get every dollar, so it’s a bank account and they do all the accounting for it, so it’s a huge business and we’re really proud of how they’ve put the infrastructure in place. .for that to happen,” Thompson said.
Senior Brandon Dalton is the bookkeeper. He says his former experience with the Future Business Leaders of America prepared him for his role.
“I was able to really take the lead and really start creating documents and spreadsheets and all that good stuff and keeping very accurate records very quickly,” Dalton said.
Each department fills out their purchase order and takes it to Dalton, where they track all expenses.
“It prepares me to work outside of school with peers and get along with them,” he said. “It was surreal because if you had told me that even a year ago that something like this would happen at our school, I would have told you, you were crazy.”
Right now they are selling by word of mouth.
“We’ve already had orders for grills, and a lot of cars have arrived, and we have boats all over campus,” Thompson said.
He said the next step is to create a website where the community can go online, order and browse the products. He hopes it will start in the fall.
“They’re so excited they can sell it and they see everybody wants it, and we’ve got new orders,” Wellman said.
The money they receive will be funneled back into the programs to fund the products the students design.
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