JA Titan Business Challenge Returns as In-Person Event

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

The event took place in The Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University. Fourteen teams from seven high schools competed for scholarships and consolation prizes as part of a simulation as competitor cellphone company CEOs.

Forty-one students registered for the event, representing various schools from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. Participating teams came 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 the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration, FactSet, UPS and The Taco Bell Foundation. 

Students on the first-place team each won $500. Students won $250 each 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 start-up [funds] between $500,000 up to $4 million. For this competition, they start out with $2 million, and the final competition is $1 million.”

Michele Merkel, president of Junior Achievement of Eastern Ohio, addresses students at the award presentations.

Merkel said she was excited to return to the in-person event after the previous online event due to COVID-19. Teams at the event were each assigned a local business mentor to help advise them and talk about their real-world experiences.

“We use that as a networking event,” she said. “The students do an icebreaker in the morning to build that team building relationship.”

Time was allotted for students to work with their mentors and question them about their experiences.

Nina Alachniewicz, JAEO intern of programs and special events, began working with JA in August. Previously, she said the JA Titan program involved “Holo-Generations” – small 3D holographic generators.

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

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

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

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

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

“In any line of work, the importance of team is much more important than you think it is,” said Western Reserve High School senior Gavin Beninston. “After doing a lot of these simulations, I really saw that.”

Pictured at top: 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 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.