By Jan W. Pagano, J.D Associate Dean Corporate & Community Institute & Entrepreneur Development Institute Indian River Community College The Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) @ Indian River Community College (IRCC) was specifically created in January 2007 as part of a two-year pilot project with grant funds awarded by the Coleman/Hughes Foundation. The project’s purpose is for the EDI to offer ongoing entrepreneurial programs for credit and/or certificate programs. The EDI is unique in that it is part of the Corporate and Community Training Institute (CCTI) @ IRCC, which has readily available corporate training course materials provided to CCTI clients and, therefore, can be modified to meet local small business needs and provide the same quality of training to EDI participants. In partnership with the IRCC Business & Technology Incubator, Martin and Indian River County Development Economic Councils, the EDI “Lunch and Learn” program has become a powerful community outreach program The EDI program has fulfilled its primary goal by extending an arm of support and knowledge to local non-profit organizations and the business community that are not readily accessible to them. Major focus included: • Grasping the realities of business ownership and overcoming challenges of Entrepreneurship and • Learning primary methods to guide businesses and/or organizations to continued success and profitability. Through the generosity of the Coleman/Hughes Foundation Grant, the EDI @ IRCC “Lunch & Learn” series afforded participants not only informative presentations by expert professionals, but it also provided a light lunch, beverages and dessert. Additionally, we were able to successfully market the EDI “Lunch & Learn” program on the CCTI Web site, numerous eNewsletter blasts from the CCTI and Economic Development partners, press releases and articles in the local newspapers and announcements on our 100,000-watt Public Radio/NPR college FM radio station.
While initially proposed to be offered in Martin County at our IRCC Chastain-Stuart, FL, campus, due to the demand and successful marketing strategy, EDI “Lunch & Learn” seminars were added in Indian River County-IRCC Mueller Campus Vero Beach, another county that is part of our college’s service area. Using funds from the existing grant award we were able to increase our seminar offerings from 12 to 16, increasing our exposure geographically and seminar enrollment.
Over 650 persons representing a diverse group of small businesses and entrepreneurs attended the 16 free EDI “Lunch & Learn” seminars held in 2007. Participants not only applauded the informative seminars, they expressed an extreme interest and great need in continuing and supporting the future of this successful program. For 2008, the EDI will host a total of 25 EDI Lunch and Learns.