Become Your Community's Economic Growth Hub
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Industry partnerships are essential ways for community colleges to thrive. Jim Jacobs, newly named NACCE board member and president of Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan, has navigated many innovative relationships by gauging changes in the local ecosystem. "A good community college tries to always respond to the needs of its own community," said Jacobs. "We're just outside Detroit, in the center of the automotive industry and in particular, the research and development arm of the industry."
Since the Great Recession in 2008, there has been a major resurgence in the Warren area, and Macomb has played an important role. "To play an aggressive role in economic development, we had to create new forms of economic opportunity," said Jacobs. "It's just not enough to rely on what we did in the past."
One of the major steps the college took was to consolidate different entrepreneurial initiatives under its Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Among its components is the Innovation Fund, formed in 2015. The fund has three main thrusts: encourage current students to engage in entrepreneurial activities (through funding for students who win pitch competitions); provide a cadre of advisors with small business development backgrounds who advise students about entrepreneurial opportunities in the community; and stimulate job creation through economic support generated by the fund.
"To start the fund, we received $1 million from JP Morgan Chase, which our own board matched, and we are in the process of raising $700-$800,000 more," Jacobs stated. "The funds are used to help businesses in high tech and advanced automotive manufacturing and provide employment opportunities for students. One of the unique features of the fund is that the companies have to be willing to hire our students."
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