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Houston Community College Strengthens Internal and External Alliances With Coleman Grant

Posted By Christine Pigsley, Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Submitted by: Sandra Louvier, Director, Center for Entrepreneurship, Houston Community College, HCC NW  (2013/2014 Coleman Grant Awardee, NACCE Membership Ambassador, AACC Slingshot College) 

Houston Community College’s 2013/2014 Coleman Foundation Grant Project has been dedicated to Creating and Expanding Internal and External Teams Dedicated to Entrepreneurship.  In the past seven years our partnerships have been highly effective and dynamic and they have allowed us to grow our entrepreneurial offerings.  With our grant activities we sought to deepen our partnerships by creating an Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium made up of internal and external partners. We collaborated to plan and hold five events as follows:  1) Business Plan Competition Reception, 2) Grow Through Exporting Seminar, 3) Enterprise Skills Faculty Development Workshop, 4) Small Business Growth Summit and 5) Veteran Entrepreneurship Workshop.  Our activities also served to increase entrepreneurs’ engagement at HCC, leverage both college and community assets and create buzz and broad exposure of HCC’s commitment to entrepreneurship.  

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium & Five Fabulous Events The EEDC was convened early in the grant timeline, broke into collaborative committees for event planning and the EEDC convenes again in August to wrap up grant activities and plan for the future.  The Business Plan Competition Reception was held in January in collaboration with some of our closest and most long-standing partners and served as a feeder event into the Business Plan Competition which is a working competition held from January through April each year. The EEDC met in February and included internal reps from varying HCC entrepreneurial initiatives (Office of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, 10,000 Small Businesses, Minority Business Development Agency, International Business and Entrepreneurship faculty).   External Partners included the SBA, SCORE, banks, local chamber and economic development council, Newspring (Business Plan Competition partner), local entrepreneurs and others.  We proceeded to plan and hold additional grant events in March, April and May and another is planned in August.   

Business Plan Competition Reception  01/09/14:  Past Contestants, BPC Leaders and Prize Sponsors gathered to mix and mingle with Applicants for the 2014 Competition at Wallis State Bank.  BPC leaders spoke of things to come in the 2014 competition and past contestants gave testimonials about how the competition propelled them forward.  The event strengthened our applicant pool and helped lead to our best competition ever!  Check out our photos:  https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5969367356903362577 

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium (EEDC Mtg) 02/26/14:  Dr. Zachary Hodges, President, HCC NW welcomed an outstanding team of internal and external partners to the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Consortium held at HCC Spring Branch on February 26.  Top leadership support continued throughout the entire grant period in that Zach Hodges, Maya Durnovo (Chief Entrepreneurial Initiatives Officer –HCC District) and Evelyn Velasquez (Interim Dean of Workforce & Economic Development, HCC NW) supported and played roles in the planning and execution of every grant event.   Check out our photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5986726293210428721

Grow Through Exporting  03/21/14:  The registrant list was as follows: 56 small business owners, 10 small business employees, 31 Students, 40 aspiring exporters, and 3 graduates of 10,000 Small Businesses, including 20 business owners doing over $150,000 in revenues, 22 already exporting & 52 who indicated specific products they want to begin exporting.  All made great connections for follow-up with presenters from the Department of Commerce-International Trade Association, Small Business Administration, HCC International Business Dept., HCC Entrepreneurship, Export-Import Bank and Wallis State Bank.  Each attendee chose next Action Steps to pursue their exporting goals.  Check out our photos:  https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/5993700898163629665 

Power of Choice – Faculty Development Workshop   HCC faculty joined Professor Linda Koffel for a thought provoking seminar on “Enterprise Skills: The New Survival Mindset.”  Koffel stated “Entrepreneurial skills are the survival skills of the new economic environment including the ability to direct one’s fate, to create one’s future, to develop one’s talents and potential.  The new survival skills all revolve around one major trait — controlling one’s own fate through creative problem solving, persistence, risk taking, being proactive, educating oneself and gaining the appropriate knowledge to reach goals.”  HCC faculty from across the system gathered to share and brainstorm about how they teach students 21st Century enterprise skills in academic and workforce classes.  Instructors participated in interactive exercises, shared creative lessons and inspired each other as they planned new lessons for fall classes.  Check out our photos:   https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/6002132610087904913 

Small Business Growth Summit  HCC surrounded entrepreneurs with the might of the Houston entrepreneurial eco-system on May 16 at the Spring 2014 Small Business Summit.  The purpose:  Ignite entrepreneurial thinking through owners, leaders and employees as the catalyst that will drive 21st Century economic growth. Keynote speakers Liz Townsend and Anthony Milton grew My Fit Foods into a national chain and these serial entrepreneurs are now launching and/or growing multiple concepts.  The platform: inspiring, insightful, interactive presentations, panels and workshops and networking with empowering resource partners.  The auditorium was filled with nearly 100 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs who benefited from the 16 experts featured on the agenda and from networking with representatives of 20 resource support partners from the Houston entrepreneurial eco-system.  Check out our photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/117725629534571468084/albums/6017733677951544657  

Veteran Entrepreneurship Workshop  For Veterans who want to start a small business and for Veterans who are Solopreneurs or Micro-Entrepreneurs and want to grow. Presentations: HCC Center for Entrepreneurship and HCC Admissions Adviser/Counselor., SBA, SCORE, Women Veterans Business Center.  Progressive Roundtables - Featuring Veteran Entrepreneurs and Veteran Instructors (5 Tables).  Each Veteran Entrepreneur leader leads a table by talking about past success as an entrepreneur and their business and/or ties to HCC Entrepreneurship (BPC or class, etc.) for 5-7 minutes, and then leaders takes Q&A from those at the table for 7-10 minutes for a total of 15 minutes at the roundtable. The bell rings and each leader moves to the next table and does the same thing with a new table of attendees for the next 15 minutes.  This will repeat for five 15-minute intervals. Lunch and Exhibitor Networking What NACCE resources are helping you reach these goals?  

Key Takeaways: 
NACCE/Coleman Foundation’s Community of Practice benefitted us greatly. Monthly group calls allowed the eleven winning colleges to share best practices and helped us resolve some challenges and avert others.  One-on-one calls with the NACCE appointed EICA leader who was also a former grant recipient college helped colleges understand and meet grant requirements. One example: we expanded  our internal and external partner list to include more knowing that some might not be able to attend EEDC meetings but would appreciated being included and that they would collaborate via phone and through one-on-one meetings when necessary. 

Survey and Measure Before and After. On-Line Registration form for events can be leveraged to collect meaningful data for target audience and build a database for future related events.  If enough information is collected up front, the college can market to attendees and no shows for future events.  Although time consuming, measurement can lead to more business and opportunities later. 

Be Willing to Adapt Plans as good feedback and advice comes in from internal and external partners.  Example, we revised our Small Business Summit to showcase HCC’s wide breadth of entrepreneurial initiatives, rather than focusing solely on start-ups and micro entrepreneurs as initially planned. We created sub-committee planning meetings between events to stay focused on specific goals.  We adjusted dates to accommodate internal and external partner needs.  

Collaborative Promotion Builds Success. External and internal partner alliances to promote events to our databases built registration and attendance and celebrated our success internally and externally to the broader business community. 

Tags:  Coleman Foundation  economic development  entrepreneurship  Houston Community College  NACCE 

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