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Gresham's ON Semiconductor opens Junior Achievement facility
ON Semiconductor opened an important new facility on Thursday that was immediately overtaken by fifth-graders from Hollydale and Troutdale elementary schools.
ON unveiled a new "manufacturing" operation in Junior Achievement of Oregon and Southwest Washington's JA BizTown.
Located in Southeast Portland, BizTown is a simulated city, complete with a bank, city hall, television station, construction company and more. It gives students a feel for real-world business and money management. ON became BizTown's first manufacturing concern when it opened Thursday, Feb. 8.
Kirk Budge, ON's manufacturing section manager in Gresham was thrilled with the company's latest expansion.
"JA BizTown is a great program that we are excited to partner with," said Budge, smiling at the bustle of the fifth-graders busily running their faux city.
His conversation was interrupted by a student-produced television spot urging BizTown students to get to City Hall and vote for mayor.
"We had an employee suggest a donation to Junior Achievement," Budge said. ON looked into Junior Achievement and was impressed with the BizTown operation. "It's real life, balancing a checkbook, interacting with a community," he said.
ON decided on more than just a donation.
"They didn't have a manufacturer represented in BizTown and our goal was to put a manufacturing presence here and to show how science and math are used in real jobs."
"It's fun," he added, surveying the engaged students. Eleven ON employees were on hand as volunteers.
Junior Achievement is a national nonprofit organization that works with businesses and other agencies to educate kindergarten through high school students in financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurship.
Junior Achievement's purpose is "to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy."
BizTown is just one of Junior Achievement's programs. It also supplies curriculum to classrooms to teach different aspects of business and personal finance and other activities.
Students coming to BizTown get some background in personal finance and other skills at their schools. They receive "help wanted" advertisements and must apply and interview for their BizTown jobs.
Once there, they get a script of what to do and how to perform their jobs. They spend about four hours during a school day in BizTown.
They are "paid" with BizTown bucks and some (faux) funds on a debit card. During several breaks they can shop in BizTown stores for snacks and other goods.
After one break a few townsfolk were lined up at a Key Bank kiosk because they had overdrawn their accounts. Just like in real life, the bank imposed a penalty fee on the students.
Each business has a CEO, a chief financial officer and in ON's case a sales manager. The newspaper had an editor, reporters and advertising sales people.
ON's facility is divided into an office setting and a "clean room" where students don clean room suits and "manufacture" computer parts.
ON's chief financial officer was a bit harried on Thursday.
"These invoices just keep coming in," she said, sounding every bit like the real deal.
Ed Krankowski, principal of Troutdale Elementary School, said the field trip to BizTown prompts student to "make the connection from their classroom to the vocational world. This experience helps them find a deeper meaning and greater appreciation for their classroom experience. It adds purpose."
He said the students come back exhausted, but they have a greater appreciation for what their parents do.
One Troutdale student, who was CEO of BizTown TV on Thursday, told Krankowski she learned "what it feels like to be an adult, to be on task and to take on more responsibility."
One learned what adults have to go through to land a job and keep it and another said they learned "how tiring work can be."
Gina Huntington, Junior Achievement's senior director of programs said 12,500 students, mostly fifth-graders, come through BizTown in the 125 days it is open every school year. Fourth- and sixth-graders also come, but what the students learn at BizTown aligns with the state curriculum standards for fifth grade, she said.
BizTown requires 23 trained volunteers for each day of operation. JA BizTown also does four summer camps.
"It costs $31 per child, but with support from companies like ON Semi, we only have to charge $18 per student," Huntington said.
Budge said ON's investment is well worth it and hopes that some students might consider manufacturing as a career.
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