By TIM CLEVELAND
For the fifth consecutive year, Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley has put on a competition to help mold the future business leaders in the area with the JA Titan Business Challenge.
The challenge was offered March 13 at Youngstown State’s Williamson College of Business Administration. In addition to the competition, 22 teams from 11 area schools were spoken to by Williamson Dean Dr. Betty Jo Licata and Chris Jaskiewicz, the president and COO of VEC Inc. about business and life in college and beyond.
Each team had two or three members and were assisted by a business mentor from a local business. The competition took place in Williamson’s computer labs and the students used JA Titan, an online business educational program. They competed in the business simulation to build the best business they could in the allotted time, with the highest-ranking teams advancing. Their performances were ranked by their performance index, which is based on their retained earnings (50 percent of their total), demand potential (10 percent), productivity (10 percent), market share (10 percent) and growth (10 percent).
The teams were randomly assigned one of three industries. The top two teams with the greatest PI value in each industry advanced to the scholarship game, with the others going into the consolation game. They were challenged in the game by changes in economic conditions, which they would have to react and adjust their businesses to. The winning teams members each received a $500 scholarship, with a $200 scholarship going to each member of the second-place team and $100 for third place.
The Cardinal Mooney team of James Haddad, Nafula Kato and Jennifer Rondinelli, with mentor Dave Blasko of Hill, Barth & King, LLC, won the competition and the $500 scholarships. Finishing in second place was Lowellville (Anthony Kostelnak, Dominic Nakley and Gia Amendola with mentor Deanna Fusillo of Greenwood Chevrolet), with Southington Chalker placing third (Alex Hatfield, Jason Jankowski and Austin Casper, plus mentor Jaskiewicz).
The consolation industry B winners were Lowellville (Nick Piccirillo, Jordan Zackasee and Brooke Zackasee, plus mentor Stephanie Straub of Ntense Workout), with Poland winning consolation industry C. Poland’s team members were Matt Slaven and Colin Rody, and mentor Eric Folsom of Compco.
Licata, a Junior Achievement board member and Williamson dean, said there is great synergy between the two organizations.
“[Junior Achievement’s] mission is to educate students about business and free enterprise, so they’re a great partner with us in working with our high school students in the Valley,” she said.
Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley Program Manager Nicole Fond gave a little more information on the Titan program.
“The program the students are using is one of Junior Achievement’s programs,” she said. “The JA Titan program introduces the idea of business and all the necessary information that goes into running a business. The competition evolved from the JA Titan classroom program. The students use the online business simulation for the competition today.”
Licata felt that the team concept would be a thing for the students to go through.
“It’s an opportunity to work in teams,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to work with a business mentor, and it gives them an idea of what it takes to run a business and the impact of their decisions.”