A new program in northern Missouri is combining Christian entrepreneurship principles with vocational training to give trained workers the skills they need to run their own businesses.
John Davis was a school counselor when alumni of the former Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri, surveyed local educators about the best way to use the property that had sat empty since 2005.
Originally thinking a new four-year college should be established, the alumni were surprised at most high school counselors’ recommendation: Tarkio needed a technical training school, to offer a local education option for students who wanted to learn skilled trades.
“Something I saw my whole career as a high school counselor was students with those hands-on skills and tendencies do not want to leave home, especially in rural areas,” Davis said in a recent podcast interview.
The new Tarkio Technical Institute, a faith-based vocational school, came to life in 2019.
Davis, now president of Tarkio Tech, is overseeing a new offering in 2024: the Halas Business School, a Bible-based business program that equips students with the knowledge, skills and ethics to be a successful business owner or business leader.
“At some point, a technical student may want to start or take over a business of their own. The problem is, there is no relationship between learning that technical skill and learning to be a successful businessperson,” said Davis.
“We don’t teach you about business. We teach you how to run a business. You’re going to have a thorough business plan before you finish here.”
The Halas Business School is a one-year program, but Davis hopes to soon expand to a second year that focuses on mentorship and funding for students to start their own businesses. The program’s instructors are business leaders who’ve exhibited proven success in running their own companies.
“Our teachers know how to do more than just teach a skill,” said Davis. “They know how to implement that skill in a working environment. And that’s critical.”
The business school, which offers classes both in-person and online, has a goal to enroll eight students for its first semester.
Davis hopes the students’ learning experience, centered on biblical principles and values in leading a business, will result in greater success overall.
“We are not a Christian school per se, although we are totally led by God’s leading. Everything we are is because God has led us.”