Erie Chamber Blog
Thursday February 21,  2019
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In Business and Life

Amanda Kochirka, MPA, ACES Volunteer and ERCGP Program Director

For 20 years, Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System (ACES) has brought the PA Business Week program to area high schools. My first experience with PA Business Week was as a judge for the Advertising and Marketing and Trade Show competitions at Ft. LeBoeuf High School. The dedication that the students put into every aspect of their businesses was impressive, but the advertising and trade show work that I had the pleasure of judging was completely above and beyond anything I ever could have expected. Seeing the students proudly introduce their products and promote them in mock TV and radio commercials as well as showcase their selling skills on the trade show floor brought a sense of pride to my own heart. 

The lessons the students learn about how a business operates, the appreciation they develop for school subjects, and how they view their potential career paths after participating in PA Business Week is where, I believe, the true success of the program lies. They’re also learning to appreciate working with different personality types, how to recognize and tap into other teammates’ strengths, and overall how to function effectively as a member of a team – which are lessons that will carry them far beyond their years of schooling.

I’ve participated in the ACES PA Business Week program for several years now and each year I am more impressed by the caliber of work the students are able to produce in such a short period of time. The work that happens behind the scenes leading up to the competitions is obvious and that’s where I’d highly recommend local businesses get involved. 

There are opportunities for volunteers from the local business community to participate in the program, most immediately at Girard High School, which will be occurring March 25-29. ACES is seeking business advisors to work directly with the student teams for the duration of the week, acting as mentors and coaches, as well as businesses who are willing to sponsor a team of 15 students, the cost of which is $400 per team.

PA Business Week was originally developed by the Manufacturer and Business Association and is designed to allow teams of public high school students to create and manage companies through a business simulation for an entire week. The rigorous program curriculum teaches students about managerial decisions such as product pricing, marketing, production, research and development, plant investment, and human resources.

At the conclusion of the week, all student teams participate in four competitions: Advertising and Marketing, Stockholders Presentation, Trade Show, and Return on Net Assets. One team is awarded the honor of Top Company and each group member receives $100. The simulation of real-world business decision making helps students to learn leadership skills, teamwork, time management, analytical thinking, problem-solving, and people skills, all while exploring the many career paths available in the business and manufacturing world.

For more information about the PA Business Week program and to volunteer or sponsor, please contact Val Laufenberg, Executive Director, at (814) 456-7007 or at

  • business
  • pa business week
  • students
  • lessons
  • life

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