The JA Titan Business Challenge returns as an in-person event


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio held its 14thth Annual JA Titan Business Challenge on Thursday, welcoming student teams from seven local school districts.

The event took place at Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration. Fourteen teams from seven high schools competed as CEOs of competing mobile phone companies for scholarships and consolation prizes in a simulation.

Forty-one students representing different schools from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties registered for the event. The participating teams were from Lordstown High School, East Liverpool Junior/Senior High School, Bloomfield Middle/High School, Western Reserve High School, David Anderson Junior/Senior High School, Mineral Ridge High School and Southington High School.

The event was sponsored by YSU Williamson College of Business Administration, FactSet, UPS and the Taco Bell Foundation.

The students on the top-ranked team each won $500. The students each won $250 for second place and $125 for third place. Winners included Lordstown Team Six, Mineral Ridge High School Team Two and Lisbon David Anderson Junior/Senior High School Team Two.

Mike Kurish, back, president of the Associated School Employees Credit Union, advises Lordstown High School students Emily Behon, Madison Kihm and Emma Urchek.

“There are so many economic scenarios that we could choose for the students,” said Michele Merkel, president of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio. “We could give them a jump-start [funds] between $500,000 up to $4 million. For this contest they start with $2 million and the last contest costs $1 million.”

Michele Merkel, President of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio, speaks to students at the awards ceremony.

Merkel said she was looking forward to returning to the in-person event after the previous online event due to COVID-19. Each team at the event was assigned a local business mentor to offer advice and share their real-life experiences.

“We’re using this as a networking event,” she said. “The students do an icebreaker in the morning to create that team building relationship.”

The students were given time to work with their mentors and to ask them about their experiences.

Nina Alachniewicz, JAEO Programs and Special Events Intern, started working at JA in August. Previously, she said the JA-Titan program includes “holo-generations” — small 3D holographic generators.

“They have a new program,” she said. “Now the teams are the CEOs of a wireless company. They make decisions about profit, research and development, cooperate on social responsibility and marketing.”

In front, Western Reserve High School students Hunter Allen, Jacob Grindley and Gavin Beninston. Sitting behind are Western Reserve High School teacher Brett Powell and REM Electronics President Jan Miller Dyer.

Similar to previous years, participants in the program competed against others as teams to work on budgeting, marketing and a variety of other skills.

“In our competitions we form teams of two to three students,” said Alachniewiez. “This team will all work together as one CEO. The companies compete against each other.”

The Williamson College of Business Administration is also offering a $1,000 scholarship for students who competed and will attend the WCBA in the fall.

“In any work area, the importance of the team is far more important than you think,” said Gavin Beninston, a senior at Western Reserve High School. “Having done a lot of these simulations, I really saw this.”

Pictured above: From left: Melissa Maki of The Middlefield Banking Co. and Chair of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio, and Lordstown High School students Austin Tyree, David Myers and Mark Holliday.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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