By Mike Patrick (via the North Idaho Business Journal)
Before too long, North Idaho College will be forming its first full class of job creators.
The initial energy for its entrepreneurial enthusiasm comes from Avista Utilities.
The Avista Business Entrepreneurship Network is expanding from five-year
anchor Spokane Community College to include NIC, Rogue Community
College in Medford, Ore., and Walla Walla Community College-Clarkston.
While SCC has been hatching big and not so big business ideas with
Avista’s help since 2007, the other three colleges likely will launch
their programs in the fall of 2013. But there’s every indication the
wait will be worthwhile.
"One of the best strategies for pulling out of the longest, deepest
recession of our time is to enable broad-based innovation and
entrepreneurship,” said Roger Woodworth, vice president and chief
strategy officer for Avista. "That’s why we’re partnering with SCC to
extend their unique entrepreneurship program to other colleges
throughout the region we serve.”
Each of the participating colleges receives $100,000 from Avista — the
money coming from Avista funds not linked to customers’ rates — over
three years. At North Idaho College, the disbursements will likely be
$35,000 each of the first two years and $30,000 the third year, said
Steve Trabun, Avista regional business manager and project manager for
the entrepreneur program.
"However they can best use those dollars to get that program up and
running,” Trabun said of NIC’s start-up funds. He added that "$100,000
by no means will sustain the program. What we’ve asked for from them is a
commitment for the long term at their school.”
In NIC’s case, the commitment will involve the NIC Foundation matching
Avista’s $100,000 — perhaps at $20,000 a year over five years, Trabun
said. That money will help support scholarships and grants for students.
While some details and a lot of work remain before NIC can launch its
program, the successes at SCC bode well for North Idaho. And the fact
that SCC’s outgoing president, Joe Dunlap, is NIC’s incoming president
should help ease any growing pains here.
"Avista and Spokane Community College have really done all the legwork,”
said NIC spokesman Mark Browning. "They’ll speed up our timeline and
make us more efficient. Ideally, we’d like to have it going in January
‘13 because we really see the need for it.”