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updated: 1/31/2019 10:12 AM

Suburban students to compete in regional virtual business conference

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Dozens of suburban high school students will showcase their virtual businesses and vie for awards during Virtual Enterprises' Great Lakes Regional Conference and Exhibition Friday in Rosemont.

They are among more than 900 students from Illinois and Michigan running virtual businesses in their classrooms and participating in the conference at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Virtual Enterprises International is a national educational nonprofit providing more than 15,000 students with the opportunity to create and run virtual business ventures in 430 schools nationwide. It is part of a global network of 7,500 virtual, student-run businesses in more than 40 countries.

In Illinois, the program launched in 2009 at St. Charles East and North high schools.

"We have grown to 19 schools with 35 (student) firms," said Kendra Lee, Virtual Enterprises' Illinois coordinator.

Participating suburban high schools include, Belvidere North, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South, Geneva, Maine East, Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley, St. Charles East and North, and West Aurora.

As part of the conference, students created company newsletters, sales materials, websites and commercials. They will compete for first-, second- and third-place honors for their school in various categories, including best business plan, best booth and best sales presentation.

Students will set up trade show booths they designed and sell their virtual products Friday.

Teams will make 90-second elevator pitches about their companies and give presentations on the human resource employee handbooks, and financial and marketing plans they created, Lee said.

"Majority of (the ideas) do not result in an actual business ... but it does give (students) the experience of what it is like to run a business," Lee said. "Students get the opportunity to network ... build their leadership skills. They have an opportunity to develop skills that they need in the workplace."

Business professionals and community leaders will serve as contest judges.