The next generation of business leaders will be in Springfield April 12-14 for the Missouri Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda competition. The 4,400 high school students will compete for the chance to represent Missouri FBLA-PBL at the national business competition in June in Chicago.

Competition categories include accounting, marketing, management, finance, human resources and more.

Not only will the students have an opportunity to move to the next level, they’re all winners because they gain skills and knowledge from the experience, said Chris Dzurick with Missouri FBLA and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Missouri FBLA-PBL offers students opportunities they cannot find in a traditional classroom,” Dzurick said. “They are able to travel the country and network with not only their peers, but with business professionals from companies like Geico, Men’s Wearhouse, and KPMG. They can challenge themselves in real-life case studies, and create a portfolio of work with our many projects. A member can transform through this organization, from fifth grade through their professional career.”

Leah Kemple, a senior at Crest Ridge High School in Centerview, said she learned to handle stress better thanks to previous competitions.

“After competing at state for the first time, I became more passionate for FBLA than I have for anything else I have ever been involved with,” Kemple said. “I had never been in such a nerve-wracking situation before the day that I stood in front of the judges at SLC. The experience taught me so much about high stress situations and I will remember it forever.”

Her classmate, Niel Patel, also learned valuable life lessons from the experience he had with FBLA.

“I was performing in Missouri State FBLA Public Speaking,” said Patel, a sophomore at Crest Ridge High School. “I knew my speech by heart. I went over it hundreds of times in my head but as good as my speech was, it wasn’t great. As I walked toward the cubicle I was set to perform in, I realized something: I need to believe in my speech. That day I came to the revelation that success is not true unless you believe in it.”

Those are just two examples of thousands of lives shaped by FBLA competitions.

Besides being good for the students, the competition will be good for Springfield. Local hotels are expected to see about 2,800 room nights result from the event. Restaurants, attractions and other businesses will benefit as well.

“We are very fortunate to have such a high caliber group of students visiting Springfield,” said Robert Henley, general manager at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center where the competition will take place. “Not only does hosting this event bring in beneficial tourist dollars to our city but it opens the opportunity up for these students to possibly become interested in Springfield being their college experience after high school graduation or maybe a future vacation with family and friends.”

FBLA-PBL’s goal is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. Members have worked hard all year to prepare for competition and have the opportunity to represent their school. For more information about the organization or a career in technical education in Missouri, call 573-751-8679 or visit

This is one of many events brought to Springfield through efforts of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. The CVB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the local economy through growth in travel and tourism. Learn more by calling 417-831-5300 or 800-678-8767 or visit