Over this past year it has been an honor for our Editorial Board to contribute to the NACCE journal. Our Campus Editorial Board is comprised of a small group of administrators and staff members from Hillsborough Community College's Plant City Campus. Our foray into writing for the NACCE journal coincided with the roll out of our own college's Certificate in Business Development and Entrepreneurship. The timing could not have been more beneficial.
Just as an individual who desires to start their own business identifies an unmet need and assesses the condition of the market around them before embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, we were given the opportunity to explore the entrepreneurial landscape, its relationship with community colleges, and the communities served by those colleges. By doing so, we discovered the impact entrepreneurs and small businesses have on the economy and the opportunities they possess for supporting economic recovery through innovation and job creation. During this time we also came to appreciate how truly engaging this immersive, career-development experience of writing for NACCE and other publications was. We firmly believe that the opportunity NACCE has given us to write in its journal will not only make us stronger individual leaders at our institution, but will serve to better our Small Business and Entrepreneurship Program as it continues to grow.
In a previous article published in this journal we went to great lengths detailing the often overlooked phenomena of underemployment, its effects on the U.S. economy as we begin to rebound from this great recession, and the role entrepreneurship can play in combating the pervasive problem of underemployment. As educators in a state currently battling one of the highest unemployment rates in the country – 12.0% for November 2010 – and a significant underemployment rate as well, researching and writing this article with the assistance of valuable data from the Kauffman Foundation further solidified our belief that a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Program would be beneficial not only for current students and displaced workers, but also for incumbent workers holding jobs outside their area of expertise. These individuals could gain the skills necessary to start their own businesses and re-enter the workforce in a career field in which they already possess a significant amount of experience or education, only this time as business owners with the high probability of adding jobs to the workforce down the road.
Researching the tremendous impact that new entrepreneurial activity has on the U.S. workforce was the topic of another article submitted by our Editorial Board this past year. Thanks to the resources and data available through NACCE and Kauffman, we learned that calling new business start-up firms the "driving force” behind our economy was no overstatement or exaggeration. In fact we learned that if history is any indicator, then it will be new business start-ups that drive the economic growth in this country and contribute most significantly to gains in workforce numbers. Kauffman's study, relying on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, supports this lesson from history; between 1977 and 2005 new business start-ups added an average of 3 million jobs to the economy annually.
Often throughout the year the information and insight we gained by writing this column on broad, nationwide issues had a direct correlation with events our Editorial Board observed on a local level in Plant City, FL. One such example, the business clustering effect that many entrepreneurs take advantage of by locating their businesses near competitors, suppliers, and support services, is present in the Plant City area. A number of agri-business associations have been attracted to this area and have made this small Florida city their headquarters. By researching and writing about entrepreneurial activity across the country our group gained a higher level of appreciation for the entrepreneurs in our own backyard and began to discuss how we could leverage the resources available within our community to enhance our own program.
As the year progressed, we enrolled between 17 and 18 students in our first offerings of four courses in our Entrepreneurship program. However, all these initial students declared a goal of going to work for a medium or large corporation, instead of starting their own business. We will continue to seek new program ideas from NACCE to tailor the identity of our program to make it, truly, a small business and entrepreneurship program.
Our efforts culminated this past October when we had the privilege to present at the 8th Annual NACCE Conference held in Orlando. Our session presented our strategy for promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing professional and program development through our Editorial Board. We attribute a significant amount of the success of our writing to NACCE itself. NACCE has been an innovative leader for community colleges in the area of entrepreneurship offering a wealth of information and support.