ORLANDO, Fla., April 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), an educational non-profit organization, will host its 65th annual ICDC in Orlando, Florida, April 30 – May 3, 2011. The ICDC is DECA's highest level of competition and encompasses career-focused competitions in finance, hospitality and tourism, marketing, management and entrepreneurship. Drawing more than 15,000 DECA students, advisors, alumni and affiliated businesspeople from all 50 states and around the world, the four-day conference will pump an estimated $14 million into the Orlando-area economy – using more than one million square feet of convention center space, 30,000 hotel room nights, 15,000 tickets to area attractions, 250,000 meals served and countless additional retail purchases.
During the school year, approximately 120,000 of DECA's 200,000 student members take part in the organization's Competitive Events Program, where they vie with one another at local and state competitions. The contests include real-life business scenarios and project presentations that are designed to test students' academic understanding and skills development, as well as DECA's overall program strength. The top state/provincial winners will now put their talents to the test during the program's final round of competition in Orlando.
"For sixty-five years, the ICDC has served as the pinnacle event for students who are focused on preparing themselves for college and careers. In that process, DECA's activities empower them to work as a team, experience leadership, engage their communities and demonstrate their academic and professional development," said Edward L. Davis, DECA's executive director. "You cannot help but be inspired by the preparation and accomplishments of these emerging leaders and entrepreneurs."
This year's ICDC will kick-off on Saturday morning, April 30, with the inaugural DECA Dash with the Diamonds 5K run/walk, benefiting DECA's scholarship fund and its signature charity, MDA. This year also marks the thirtieth anniversary of their alliance, which serves to teach students the importance of community service. During the course of their partnership, DECA has raised more than $5 million for MDA, making them MDA's largest "youth donor." Proceeds from the DECA Dash and other 2010/11 fundraising efforts are expected to add nearly $500,000 to that total.
"I look forward to going back to ICDC every year, but this year, I'm especially excited about this cool new event, which not only will benefit MDA, but also be a blast for everyone – I'll be there!" said Luke Christie, MDA national youth chairman and ICDC representative. "MDA's theme this year is "Make a Muscle, Make a Difference", and this is exactly what this first-ever fun run/walk is all about. By going out there and working out their own muscles, these amazing students are helping kids and families, like mine, all across the country."
In addition to MDA, this year's ICDC also marks notable anniversaries among several of DECA's long-time supporters, including: Sears Holding Corporation and J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (65 years); Walgreen Co. (45 years); Marriott International, Inc., and Johnson & Wales University (30 years); Berkeley College (20 years); the National Retail Federation (15 years); PepsiCo, Inc. (10 years) and Vector Marketing (5 years).
On Saturday evening, DECA hosts its Grand Opening Session at the Orange County Convention Center. This electrifying event features an array of DECA membership awards and entertainment. The evening's highlights will include a cirque act, a full-runway fashion show and the presentation of the organization's 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. This year's recipient is Orlando business icon, Pat Williams. Mr. Williams was selected for his accomplishments as an outstanding entrepreneur and businessman, who has positively impacted his community and whose leadership and achievements serve as an inspiration and example for DECA's membership.
DECA's connection to business is another hallmark of the organization's strength and enduring success. The National Advisory Board (NAB), DECA's corporate advisory board, includes more than 60 nationally and internationally recognized businesses, including its new chair, Fortune 50 Company, Safeway, Inc. In 2010, DECA's NAB contributed more than $1.5 million in direct support, along with countless dollars of in-kind support and personnel time, to help DECA develop the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs through its classroom programs and international competitions held throughout the year. For example, California-based Safeway grocery stores sponsors the organization's international competitive events in food marketing and community service, as well as provides academic scholarships for DECA members who are Safeway employees. DECA also is Safeway's sustainability partner in its efforts to improve academic success rates and workforce preparedness among students living in inner-city communities.
"Safeway views talent acquisition as key to our long-term success, and our partnership with DECA is an important strategy to ensure that we keep our talent pipeline full," said Roger Glenn, Group Vice President, Human Resources, Safeway, Inc., and DECA's incoming NAB Chairman. "It doesn't matter if the economy is strong or soft, there is always a demand for highly motivated, well-qualified employees. Supporting DECA helps Safeway do well in business and effectively serve the community at the same time."
DECA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. DECA operates in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico and Germany. The United States Congress, the United States Department of Education and the district, state and international departments of education authorize DECA's programs. For "quick facts" about DECA, click here, or you can visit its Web site, www.deca.org, for more detailed information.