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Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum Member Q&A: Economic Recovery on Florida’s Research Coast


Edwin R. Massey, Ph.D., is president of Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, FL. In this Q&A, he responds to questions about how the economy in the four counties served by his college is improving and how IRSC is living up to the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum commitments. For more information on IRSC, check out this President Profile on Ed Massey from several years ago.

NACCE: What is the state of the economic recovery in your region? Specifically, are you seeing improvements in things like job creation and new business starts?


Massey:
Signs of economic recovery are widespread throughout Florida’s Research Coast. Unemployment has fallen for more than five consecutive months and sits almost three percentage points lower than this time last year. The Governor recognized the region in February for being Florida’s most productive in regards to job placements. Finally, local business start-ups are increasing and many are looking to the College’s Small Business Development Center and Business Incubation resources.

NACCE: What are the chief economic challenges your region still faces?


Massey:
State funding is still critically limited and has hindered state economic development incentives to recruit new business and industry, and to support the expansion efforts of locally established businesses. IRSC partners closely with our economic development organizations to support expansion and recruit new business and industry to our community. The college has become a tremendous resource and recruiting tool, especially in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) industries, which is the central focus for the development of our community as we all partner to build Florida’s "Research Coast.”

NACCE: How do you think the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum commitments will help your institution to assist the area you serve in meeting its economic challenges?


Massey:
Entrepreneurship resources and education are critical components to the future economic success of our region, state and nation. The commitment to the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum only reaffirms Indian River State College’s dedication to this movement. We are fully engaged in regional economic development, devote a myriad of resources to assisting our local communities in business development, and have created a hub for entrepreneurial ventures with the 65,000-square-foot Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It houses our Small Business Development Center, an Innovation Incubator, the Corporate and Community Training Institute, and the Entrepreneur Development Institute. The Center also focuses on nuclear and alternative energy and will be a pivotal factor in helping this region develop those industries.

NACCE: Have you shared the commitments with the economic ecosystem (i.e., chamber leaders, EDC leaders, etc.) in your area and, if so, what has been their response?


Massey:
The IRSC team is out in the community promoting the economic development and entrepreneurship resources of the college at every opportunity, especially with the new addition of the Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. We are present at every Chamber and Economic Development Organization meeting and work diligently to get the word out on how we can partner with local businesses. From short-term efforts like coordinating Quick Response Training Grants for expanding local businesses to long-term programs like our Power Plant Technology Institute with FPL, IRSC has gained a strong reputation for being dependable, innovative and entrepreneurial when it comes to helping local business succeed, and in turn, the private sector is very supportive of IRSC.

NACCE: Please add any other thoughts you have on the topic of how the commitments will help your college improve its ability to foster economic growth and job creation in your region.


Massey:
The commitment to the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum will keep Indian River State College informed of innovative entrepreneurship initiatives taking place across the nation. Additionally, being a collaborative partner in such an effort will allow this institution to share the exciting successes occurring here with our colleagues. We plan to draw from this forum frequently to enhance IRSC’s ability to aid in the economic development and job creation efforts taking place in our region.


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