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South Valley Journal

Teens Triumph at National Business Competition

Aug 04, 2016 12:32PM ● By Tori La Rue

Hannah Pedersen, Keenan Budd and Marin Murdock (Center) pose for a picture with local dignitaries at the professional seminar they hosted for Herriman residents and business owners to introduce them to the Herriman Chamber of Commerce. -- Jilianna Wing

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Herriman, Utah - Three Herriman high-schoolers took first place in the National Future Business Leaders of America competition in Atlanta, Georgia, during the first week of July for their efforts in creating a Herriman Chamber of Commerce.

“The Southwest Valley Chamber was over Herriman, but its focus wasn’t Herriman, and Herriman was kind of underrepresented,” Keenan Budd, 18, said. 

“Herriman fell through the cracks in that chamber, so we wanted to get more representation, and we figured that the only way to do that was to create a Herriman Chamber of Commerce to try and build up some of that membership and excitement to help the community,” Hannah Pedersen, 17, added.

Keenan and Hannah teamed up with Marin Murdock, 17, also a member of FBLA. To get the project rolling, they organized surveys and focus groups to gauge the interest of the local business community. After receiving positive feedback, the students met with Mayor Carmen Freeman and the Herriman City Council; Val Hale, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and former Utah Valley Chamber President; and other local dignitaries to secure government support and glean ideas as to how to form the group.

To ensure its stability during its initial months, the students created the Herriman Chamber of Commerce as a fully functioning chamber under the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce. They held a professional summit in January to introduce the chamber to entrepreneurs and residents. Now, the Herriman chamber has more than 15 active members, and its board members are working to charter it as a chamber on its own.

“When we started, this was just a project. We were going to do the project and then go and do well at our competitions with it, but we didn’t really realize the impact it was going to have on the community.”

It came to strengthen relationships between business owners in the city, create a standard for business students at Herriman High School and help Utah become nationally recognized for its young business leaders, Marin said.

“It’s kind of unreal,” Hannah said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my word, we did this.’”

The state judges awarded Hannah, Marin and Keenan first place in the FBLA state competition, which led them to the national competition. The top four scorers from each state and the top scorers from several other countries competed in nationals. Out of more than 150 state-winning projects that focused on promoting the American Enterprise System, the Herriman high schoolers’ chamber project took first place.

This is the first time Herriman High School’s FBLA program has won a national competition.

“We’re usually lucky if we even make the top ten,” Keenan said. 

“And it’s really, really, really rare for anyone from Utah to win the competition, so we’re grateful we could represent,” Marin said.

Keenan said he believes their project won because it was unique. Most students teach elementary or middle school students about the American enterprise system for their project, but the Herriman High students chose to work directly with the business community, he said.

“The local businesses owners were pretty well responsive,” Marin said. “That was one of our concerns— that they weren’t going to listen to students like us. They took it pretty well and sought our feedback, and they sort of just followed our lead.” 

Hannah said presenting their plan to business professionals helped her gain confidence and communicate clearly. Hannah graduated from high school in June and is headed to Utah State University in August. She wants to become a veterinarian and open up her own clinic and said the skills she learned through this project will enable her to live that dream. 

Keenan will be attending the University of Utah in the fall where he said he got scholarships, in part, because of the FBLA project.

Marin is a senior at Herriman High this year. Over the summer she interned at a law firm, an experience she attributes to the connections she made through creating the Herriman Chamber of Commerce. Marin is currently the student representative on the city’s chamber board.

“The change that the chamber has created for not just us as students but for the business department and the business community is incredible,” Marin said.