For the Washington High School students in David Penwell’s Principles of Economics classes, the business world just got real.
For six years, Rod Bryant, Washington Court House City Building and Zoning Inspector, has put together a list of real City business sites and challenged the students to find a business that would not only fit the site, but would enhance the needs of Washington Court House residents.
The six potential sites were scattered all over the city but within the business district. The students needed to determine what the cost of the site would be, what would the cost of erecting a building would be, who their target audience was, and the amount of traffic passing the business on a daily basis, and include an opportunity/cost analysis. The students also needed to interview residents to determine if their chosen business might be successful.
One of the biggest hurdles for most of the groups was the presentation itself. For many of the students, this was their first experience with public speaking. The ideas were varied: restaurants, pet stores, coffee shops, paint-ball courts, swimming pools, movie theatres, candy stores, book stores and auto repair stores. The students received points if their information was organized and related to the main topic. Also, their speech had to be clear and they needed to know their subject well enough to answer all questions.
According to Penwell, the plan is to teach basic business economics while also increasing student confidence. That confidence comes not only from the teacher, but outside visitors, like Bryant, and from other students.
Student Brett Darling indicated they had “never had someone from the outside” (meaning this reporter) sit in on their presentations. Kamryn Joseph shared that there had been other speaking opportunities, “but none as serious as today’s presentation.”
Bryant’s role was not only to provide viable business lot locations, but to critique the presentations. The students received praise regarding their abilities to discern if the chosen “lot and use” went together; if the group left room for expansion of their business; if thought was given to ingress and egress; did they follow the zoning laws; and, if their presentations showed thought into “what is needed by the community vs. what you, the students, want.”
Bryant also shared information regarding suggested businesses that had failed in Washington Court House and why they had failed, as well as feedback on presentation, such as facing your audience and speaking up. Bryant also praised the students regarding “the amount of investigating that was done and the quality of the presentation materials” handed out.
This community would be fortunate to have these students return after their college years to invest in the business future of Washington Court House.