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College presidents aim to bolster entrepreneurship efforts

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​A national organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges has launched a national campaign to encourage more two-year college leaders to focus on such efforts to create local jobs and bolster economies.

The call from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) comes in response to the first board meeting of Startup America, a White House initiative to advance entrepreneurship and create jobs across the country. During the meeting on Dec. 8, its board members announced commitments from more than 50 private-sector partners to deliver more than $1 billion in value—from free software to free consulting and legal services—to 100,000 startups over the next three years.

President Barack Obama also took the opportunity to renew his call for Congress to develop ideas from his American Jobs Act plan to help small and growing businesses access capital.

Key local players

Over the past few years, community colleges have been recognized for their potential to turn out a wide range of entrepreneurs. This has caught the attention of lawmakers who are eager to find ways to create jobs and help economies locally and nationally.

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“As a national organization supporting entrepreneurship development, NACCE touches the lives of students and community members across the country,” said Thomas, NACCE board chair and president of Dakota County Technical College (Minnesota), said in a statement. “NACCE has an obligation to lead the way in providing assistance to entrepreneurship education programs, which are an essential part of the economic recovery at local, regional, national and global levels. Research is clear: New businesses are the key to job creation now and in the future.”

More than 100 community college presidents have already agreed to become part of the effort, according to NACCE, which aims to have 300 presidents participating by April and 600 by the end of 2012.

Roy Church, president of Lorain County Community College in Ohio, is among the first presidents to sign on.

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“These are commitments that community colleges need to be making to their communities in support of entrepreneurship,” he told Community College Entrepreneurship, NACCE’s quarterly journal. “The reality is today community colleges have a dual responsibility. One part of that is to help grow the talent necessary for a successful economy. The second responsibility is to help communities grow the jobs for people to use those skills and entrepreneurship is the vehicle for supporting innovation and creativity in growing new companies that create new jobs.”

NACCE is a founding affiliate of the Startup America Partnership, an alliance of U.S. entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations and other leaders to significantly increase the prevalence and success of America’s entrepreneurs. (The American Association of Community Colleges is an affiliate member.) It was launched at the White House in January and is working to dramatically increase the prevalence and success of America’s entrepreneurs.

The five areas

The five commitments NACCE is asking of community college presidents joining the forum are:

  • Develop transparency of community college and community assets.
  • Create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship.
  • Increase entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges.
  • Engage in industry cluster development.
  • Create buzz and broad exposure of your college’s commitment to entrepreneurship.

An environment to foster entrepreneurs  

“The five commitments were developed based on NACCE’s observations of what was working best on member campuses,” said Heather Van Sickle, executive director of NACCE. “One of the major things that clearly makes a difference is the commitment by leadership to entrepreneurship. So we want to put something in front of leadership that they can actually commit to. We want to create a national network of institutions sharing these commitments and see what impact that can have on communities.

In January, President Barack Obama launched Startup America, a federal initiative to help create and expand small businesses (See video below).

 

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