State chamber trains entrepreneurs

Rachael Petro, CEO of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, gives an update to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during their weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday.

President and CEO of Alaska’s state Chamber of Commerce Rachael Petro stopped by the Moose Lodge to update Juneau members of the broader organization.

Petro said the chamber has done well reaching out to past partners, legislators and the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Petro said Juneau sponsored half a dozen students out of more than thirty who participated in the Chamber’s Business Week program ( This was the program’s third successful year, Petro said.

The program gives students college credit for running their own business.

“It’s basically a business simulation,” Petro said. “For high school students of all skill levels.”

The program is a partnership with Washington. 

During the week students develop a new product and create a trade show presentation, Petro said. Students also contemplate ethical dilemmas they may encounter as a business owner.

“They are required to make business decisions every day,” Petro said. “This really provides a win win situation for everyone involved in the program.”

Students really gain an understanding of their future potential, Petro said.

The high school students, “all of a sudden they have the relevancy factor,” Petro said. “it really clicks.” Students can see why they are in a math class and how it relates to the working world.

“It is not that these students are not bright,” Petro said. “It’s that they are bored to death and they don’t see the connection. This program provides that connection. They are now motivated more because they get it.”

“The program really starts to show it value after 20 or 30 years,” Andy Rogers deputy director of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce said. “After an entire generation has learned about where wealth comes from, [and] where wealth is generated,

it is important to grab kids young and teach them about the private sector principals.”

“People don’t understand where wealth is generated,” Rogers said. The program helps imbue students with the importance of being an employer, he said.

“Grabbing these kids early and teaching these principals,” Rogers said, “we have entire generations of Alaskans, perhaps not employing those principles, but understanding what they are.

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• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at


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