Junior Achievement’s BizTown welcomes ‘new’ City Hall

Facility is a partnership with the City of Auburn and other public entities.

Future movers and shakers cut the ribbon on the new Auburn City Hall on May 7.

New City Hall?

Okay, not the one at 10 West Main Street — still there — but the shiny new storefront representing the seat of the city’s government in Junior Achievement’s BizTown on Perimeter Road.

Natalie Vega O’Neil, president and chief executive officer of JA Washington, addressed the sea of upturned young faces from Lochburn Middle School and Eastside Christian School, who later cut the ribbon and became the first group of students to administer things at the new City Hall.

“What we’re doing today is celebrating the newly designed, newly released, City Hall,” Vega O’Neil announced. “This opening is the result of months and months of preparation and planning that had led to this day. We are really excited to welcome the city of Auburn, its tourism bureau, Explore Auburn and … the Valley Regional Fire Authority to the rest of the organizations that are part of our work here at JA BizTown.”

The JA Education Center in Auburn is home to capstone programs like JA BizTown (grades 4-6) and JA Finance Park (grades 7-9). Inside those simulated mini towns, students learn what it’s like to be an adult for a day, thus connecting the dots between their classroom curriculum and their future academic and economic success.

In this makeover of City Hall, which includes the Auburn Police Department, the Valley Regional Fire Authority and Explore Auburn, students will imbibe vital lessons on community engagement and safety, tourism marketing, and the variety of life skills required to be an effective government leader. Among them, being mayor of a city.

“We know that this experience will help you students understand so much more about the topics you learn in school, connecting your education to your career plans, and then preparing you guys to whatever you’re interested in doing in your career once you get out of high school,” Vega said.

When the city started working on the project, said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, “the space before now, was, um, nice-ish, but definitely not like what we have today,” that is, before the old City Hall dome came down and the new sign went up last month.

Junior Achievement (JA) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success and plan for their future. Since 1953, Junior Achievement of Washington (JAWA) has served 2 million students in Washington state. In partnership with organizations and volunteers, JA is transforming the student experience with in-person and virtual programs, teaching vital skills in financial literacy, work and career readiness, and entrepreneurship.

Junior Achievement has many age-appropriate programs for children from kindergarten through 12th grade, teaching them skills and knowledge relevant to 21st-century jobs. JA programs are taught by volunteers in classrooms, at the experiential capstone facility in Auburn, and at their new JA Mobile Finance Park.

Junior Achievement of Washington’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Driven by the passionate power of its volunteers, JA programs are taught by community and business mentors – individuals committed to the success and healthy development of students in Washington state and Northern Idaho. In 2023, Junior Achievement of Washington reached thousands of K-12 students with relevant, hands-on learning experiences that teach young people to manage their money, plan for their economic future, own their businesses, and develop readiness for careers or college.