Entrepreneur Eric Baird of Sarasota: The Biz Town Boost for Southside Elementary
When developing education for the future, it’s rarely too early to begin exposure to concepts that ultimately will become everyday skills for kids as they become adults and join the working world. For Eric Baird, this concept is achieved with Junior Achievement’s “Biz Town,” a workshop that teaches grade school children the fundamental ideas of how business works and then allows them to practice and apply those ideas in a child-version simulation, putting theory to practice in a way that kids understand easily.
Getting Into the Business Side of Things
For 5th graders at Southside Elementary, they are going to be participating in the Junior Achievement “Biz Town” program on a regular basis for the next few foreseeable years. This is because the school received a $20,000 donation from the Gail Baird Foundation and Eric Baird, the CEO of Baird Inc., for specifically this educational purpose. Baird Inc. and the Gail Baird Foundation are both full supporters of student development in economic theory, ideas, and concepts at an early age. Given his own experience, Eric Baird believes the sooner that kids are exposed to these ideas, the easier it is for them to adapt and find their future roles in the workplace, business as well as even entrepreneurship a decade or two later. The Biz Town workshop takes the book learning further with a full-scale town just for the kids to engage and practice what they have learned in a simulated environment. It’s fun, they come away with new ideas, and even more important, the children become rooted in the principles taught that would otherwise just be words in book or slideshow presentation. And who knows, as Eric Baird points out, one of these kids might be the next CEO of America’s newest company 15 or 20 years from now.
The practical aspects of the Biz Town workshop have students apply what they have learned in the beginning part to real-life scenarios. For Eric Baird, this part is essential to education. It’s not enough to have ideas in books and digital references; kids need to understand and see how school applies to the real world their parents live in. The students get to vote for political leaders, calculate running a business and associated costs, they have to come up with a business plan for the fictional company, and they get to try out different career paths and how they would interact with a community. Every student functions as a working citizen of Biz Town during the workshop, which collectively makes the simulation that much more real for them as well as engaging.
Finding Connections Between Education, Philanthropy & Business
For Eric Baird, the Junior Achievement program realizes the kind of education he wants all children to have, to get them properly ready for adult paths in life, whether working as a professional or running a company, or working in government. The sooner that concepts are taught, from Eric Baird’s perspective, the deeper they are established in children, given students an advantage of familiarity as they deal with these concepts again in higher levels of school and starting work.
The Gail Baird Foundation was established in 2012 to originally help support the research, awareness, and finding a cure for ovarian cancer. Gail Baird also wanted the foundation to focus on development opportunities and resources for young female entrepreneurs as well as to help support seniors and military veterans. Eric Baird continues to help support the Foundation’s goals as well as community school resources on a regular basis, seeking synergies between business and our next generation’s educational success.