Watershed Development Corporation has contributed $3,000 to the Sterling, Illinois chapter of Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO). CEO partners with a community’s businesses and local school systems to mentor high school juniors and seniors to become the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. Each CEO course spans an entire school year and is designed to utilize partnerships that provide an overview of business development and processes. Students visit area businesses, learn from guest speakers, participate in a class business, write business plans, and start and operate their own businesses. Business concepts learned through the experiential CEO class are critical; the 21st century skills of problem-solving, teamwork, self-motivation, responsibility, higher-order thinking, communication, and inquiry are at the heart of a student’s development throughout the course. Mike Ceruzzi, VP of Business Operation of Watershed Development and IRDA board member presented the $3000 check at the SVAAC annual dinner on January 27, 2017. “We were all so surprised and also grateful for such kindness. I am so often humbled by the support we receive, financial, as well as in the form of tours, expertise, mentoring, and more” commented Le Andra Hartman, CEO Facilitator. In addition to the financial gift Watershed will host the current crop of CEO students at its Sterling Aaron’s store on February 28, 2017 for a tour and business workshop at which the students will receive an inside look at the rent-to-own business. Watershed, in conjunction with the Illinois Rental Dealers Association (IRDA) board of directors spent much of 2016 learning about CEO which was started in 2008 by The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship. “We are excited to partner with CEO in Sterling. Business formation is the lifeblood of our economy and we are thrilled to be able to support and nurture our community’s future business owners and job creators,” stated Watershed Development’s President, Casey Pristou. About Watershed Development Corporation Watershed owns and operates Aaron’s (NYSE – AAN) stores throughout Northern Illinois and Iowa. Aaron’s is a leading rent-to-own company with more than 2,000 company and franchise stores throughout North America. Watershed, a franchise operator since 2004, has earned the distinction of being an Aaron’s Top 5 Performing Franchise Operator multiple times since its inception and has been recognized as Aaron’s 2016 Franchise of the Year. About IRDA The Illinois Rental Dealers Association (IRDA) works closely with the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) to provide membership and the general public with the latest information regarding legislative initiatives concerning the rent-to-own industry. The IRDA works to ensure a vital future for its industry through networking, education, political outreach and legislative vigilance.