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Newsletter for September 25th, 2015

Eagle Country Water Works

Eagle Country Water Works started in 2004 with the vision of Tony Griffith who frequently traveled to the west where water quality can be quite poor and availability is scarce. From this idea stemmed the concept of ECWW as a private label water bottling company they would form into a 501c3 and the profit would go to the youth of our community. Indeed, ECWW has funded somewhere in the amount of $200,000 youth projects in Jasper County.

The current officers of ECWW are Lynette Huddlestun, Mark Bolander and Tony Griffith. We discussed the niche market they fit into with private labeling for events such as prom, weddings, school mascot, and community labeling. We also talked about the difference between ECWW and the name brands like Nestle and Pepsi-Co water. Their bottled water is mass produced and typically municipality water. Because it is mass produced with same label it can be produced in a more cost effective way. The concept of ECWW is private labeled, quality spring water in a quality bottle.

The officers of the company last touched on marketing and the approach to ordering in minimums, how to word the sale, and how to effectively price the product accordingly. Jasper CEO students were very engaged in the conversation and curious to learn more about the potential markets for privately labeled water as well as the structure of 501c3 companies. So I am sure you can imagine in the next few weeks what we will be discussing…business structures. That is the concept of student driven instruction at its finest. This form of instruction delivers information that is what they want when they are ready for it. What a great concept!


A BIG thank you to Martin's IGA in Newton for sponsoring our September CEO Board Luncheon on Monday, September 21st. Jasper CEO students and board members were able to socialize and learn more about the organization from each others point of view. It was a great meeting and a terrific lunch!

Ken Larimore, U of I Extension Economic Development Educator

Ken Larimore, University of Illinois Economic Development Educator for Jasper County, has been working with our county since 2005. After we learned more about Ken’s back ground we discussed what his role is within our community, economic coordination and stimulation. Among many different ventures he monitors for the area (such as housing, hotels, food, health care, etc.) he reiterated that Jasper County is not looking for large manufacturing corporation as our area couldn’t staff their labor requirements. But instead, they would like to have smaller manufacturers that could potentially supply the larger manufacturers in our area.

He mentioned that over the years it has become increasingly obvious that in the future we will be needing more manufacturing skilled labor as more reshoring is occurring. So, he has been working with school superintendents and community colleges to help prepare the upcoming workforce.

Ken also introduced students to the concepts of TIF, Enterprise Zones and what PIN and EAV stands for. Ken will return later in the year to continue his conversation with Jasper students in regards to how these issues effect our community and how they can be viewed from different points of view in our community.


Levi Richards, Investment Banker, Morgan Stanley

Levi Richards, Investment Banker for Morgan Stanley and NCHS and Harvard graduate, spoke to Jasper CEO today about not only his role within his company but also the importance of internships and making business connections. Levi explained how he used cash flow statements, income statements, balance sheets and spread sheet programs and businesses historical records to create hypothetical scenarios for companies to use when considering financial transactions into and out of their businesses. He also emphasized how detailed the process must be and that his worked is evaluated by senior executives for accuracy. Levi stated that he enjoys the challenge and stress that comes with the process and likened it to the competitiveness that he experienced while playing high school and collegiate sports. He also covered the concepts of issuing stock and debt, and leverage buyouts. Within the last year Levi was transferred from sales and trading to now being a part of Morgan Stanley’s natural resources finance team. He also alluded that work experience is much like a degree or additional credentials when seeking other employment. Another piece of advice that he offered CEO students was the concept of questioning and that it is a high compliment to a presenter to ask a well thought question. We were also blessed with several guest this day that made for excellent, educational discussion!


Hospitality at Tuscan Hills

Our visit to Tuscan Hills Winery with Wanda Pitcher was to discover the art of hospitality. Wanda has a tourism back ground and along with her general manager, Erin Hartke, did a fantastic job of displaying and explaining the ins and outs of hospitality. She offered us the definition of hospitality and then simplified by explaining that it is basically just making people feel at home. As a business owner she commented at the struggle that exists to find employees that share the same beliefs and passion about hospitality. We discussed the importance of training a staff in hospitality as well as the importance of tourism to our local sales tax base. Another new concept introduced today was the networking and synergizing between businesses to develop and promote tourism for our area. Obvious customer service was a huge portion of our discussion and what the proper way to treat a customer, investor, business partner, etc. In closing we discussed social media and how it has changed business today. It is an easy venue to compliment or complain and she stressed addressing negative comments and making a situation right. It's sometimes not fair, but it is business today. A beautiful day at a beautiful venue learning about how to serve others!


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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Jasper County CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

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