Seneca County becomes first Ohio community for national entrepreneurship program


Agreement signed between Midland Institute and the new Seneca CEO nonprofit

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TIFFIN, OHIO – Sept. 18, 2020The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship announced today that Seneca County has been approved to become the 58th community nationally – and the first in Ohio — to host a Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program helping high school youth successfully start new businesses.

The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship created the CEO program as a way to provide high school students of all skill sets and backgrounds the opportunity to be successful in a transformational experience that inspires entrepreneurial thinking and develops the workforce of tomorrow. Created in 2008, the program has grown to 58 programs operating in seven states.

Midland Institute Executive Director Austin Brooks announced the approval, “Today, more than ever, students not only need the soft skills instilled by this learning environment, more importantly, they need the entrepreneurial, problem-solving mindset that CEO inspires. We are excited to bring this transformational experience to Ohio and launching in Seneca County schools in 2021.”

A new 501c3 nonprofit — Seneca CEO — recently was created to administer the program. Edward VanHoose, President of Federated Energy Services Cooperative, including North Central Electric locally, is serving as the organization’s first president. Together with Sutton Bank CEO Tony Gorrell, VanHoose and North Central Electric helped fund the start-up cost to bring the program here.

VanHoose saw the program firsthand when he worked in Southern Illinois a few years ago. “I know this program works, makes business sense, and dramatically impacts local lives. Our first order of business is to secure the next three years of funding and hire a Facilitator, and we’re ready to get started.” The program operates completely though community funds; students and schools do not pay to participate. Seneca CEO asks local businesses to learn about the program and hopefully become a member and support the program on an annual basis.

Seneca CEO Board members include VanHoose, Gorrell, Suzie Reineke of Reineke Family Dealerships, Nate Brickner of Bascom Communications, David Zak of the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership, Sarah Stevens-Krupp of the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Seneca County Commissioner Shayne Thomas, Dr. Laura Kagy of Seneca East Local Schools and Shawn Earl of Fostoria Local Schools.

About the Midland Institute

The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship was established in 2010 in Effingham, Illinois to oversee and promote the nation-wide expansion of the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) initiative – a year-long high school program created by Milken National Educator Craig Lindvahl designed to bring high school youth, entrepreneurs, and businesses together and provide an overview of business development and processes. Now, more than 230 schools offer the program. For more information, visit

About the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership

Started in 1983 as the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC), the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on in Tiffin and Seneca County at

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