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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Summer/Fall 2009

Engaging Community Resources in Entrepreneurship Education: The Four P’s

Friday, September 18, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Tom Ledbetter

Executive Director, Enterprise Campus

Midlands Technical College, Columbia, SC

Successful, sustainable offerings of entrepreneurship education will not occur without the active engagement of these resource groups from the community: Participants, Providers, Practitioners, and Partners.

Generating Participant interest in your entrepreneurial offerings is not a matter of magnitude (the interest is strong); what matters is quality ("Does this work?”), timeliness ("I want to act on my idea now, not tomorrow or next week”), and network ("Will the contacts made through this class help my business?”). In most models, measuring the satisfaction of the Participants is our only metric; how we measure the engagement of the other critical groups will vary by community.

Engaging the local community and its resources in their critical role of nurturing this entrepreneurial talent will pose unique challenges, especially in the harsh economic environment prevalent in most communities today. The entrepreneurial Practitioners in your area must be "plugged in” to your offerings. These Practitioners may be presenters in class, mentors to the new companies/businesses, vocal champions in the media, or even clients for some of the new companies. If you don’t know who they are, find them. These businesses are the practical evidence that your community can and will support these new entrepreneurial companies.

Providers administer the programs, pay the bills, do the marketing of the offerings, handle the logistics of the programs (including enrollments, participant fee payments/refunds, etc) and are generally the "go to” groups or individuals inherent in your success. Their role cannot be overlooked or discounted. In our model, the community college fulfills the responsibilities of the Provider, maximizing the reach of these programs through the existing systems and service networks already in use.

Partners in the community come in many forms: Chambers of Commerce, local/regional/state government entities, real estate companies, banks, school systems, law firms, accounting firms. They do have one common denominator: they will be beneficiaries of a vibrant and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in your community. Scholarships, complimentary memberships, and discounts for services are just a few of many forms of support that Partners can bring to the offerings.

Successful and sustainable entrepreneurial development requires more than just the offering of a class. Considerable time and effort from many seemingly disparate groups, successfully championed in the community, will lead to measurable improvements in economic health.

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