Entrepreneurial spirit on the Hill
After working all summer to devise a plan to promote entrepreneurship among the student body and in Central Maine, the Career Center launched its new initiative, the Entrepreneurial Alliance (EA), Thursday, September 23.
The event took place during Colby Alumni Network (CAN) weekend. Four speakers presented at a reception and dinner: Ken Young â€™68, the executive director of Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG), Mike Dugay, the director of development services for the City of Augusta, Roger Woolsey, the director of the Collegeâ€™s Career Center and Mark Johnson â€™96, the senior director of Travel Centric Daily Web magazines for Conde Nast Digital.
Consisting of 35-37 students, the EA is similar to the Colby Connect program in that it provides workshops to sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in entrepreneurship. However, the EA is only a one-year program. â€œBecause entrepreneurship is interdisciplinary regardless of major, anybody can participate in the program because they will learn skills and competencies that complement the liberal arts education,â€ Woolsey said.
Those skills and competencies include problem solving, conceptualizing and relying on critical execution. One purpose of the workshops is to help prepare the students for the business competition second semester. Though not required, students participating in the competition will create a business prospectus relating to Central Maine for the competition. With grant money set aside for the winners, the students will present their business plans at a forum in front of a panel of judges made up of parents, alumni and community leaders, as well as members of the Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network (KVEN).
KVEN, launched September 9, 2010, also stemmed from the motivation to promote entrepreneurship in Central Maine and to create more enterprise, business, wealth and jobs. â€œWe know that job creation is done largely by small businesses, that small business are entrepreneurial by nature, that small business people and entrepreneurs need to be supported in their efforts to create jobs and that the network and Alliance are one effective means to that end,â€ Young said. Young partnered with Woolsey, Dugay, Assistant Director of the Career Center and Internship Coordinator Erica Humphrey and others, to create KVEN along with the EA.
Banks, venture capitalists, local government officials and economic development professionals form some of the networkâ€™s membership similar to the EA.
The service providers, municipalities and entrepreneurs that make up the network will provide information and support to other entrepreneurs. Right now, KVEN is reaching out to gain new interest and membership, and Woolsey hopes that surrounding colleges and educational institutions will become involved.
The College is the only liberal arts institution that has this relationship with a regional entrepreneurial development system. It is important that students on the Hill assist in producing sustainable services within the Central Maine Market, which needs help, because â€œevery student that goes through Colby is a member of the Central Maine community,â€ Woolsey said. â€œ[Colby is] the oldest living sibling to Central Maine.â€
Part of the relationship between EAâ€ˆand KVEN is that the students will be able to get internships with local entrepreneurs and members of KVEN.
KVEN has developed a three-pronged approach, which strives to increase the workforce and tackle the job creation challenges. â€œWe know that to be more prosperous we need to create new jobs. We know that we need high wage, high value jobs to attract and retain people in the region,â€ Young said. â€œWe were convinced that more needed to be done to increase our competitive position.â€
The strategy focuses on developing and enhancing the quality and quantity of the workforce, a system that fosters and encourages entrepreneurship and a workforce strategy for the health care industry.
On a smaller scale, the students in the EA will begin cultivating their entrepreneurial spirit by attending the workshops this semester. Humphrey has worked on bringing in community leaders to facilitate workshops such as â€œBringing an Idea to Lifeâ€, â€œEntrepreneurâ€™s Guide to Business Lawâ€ and â€œFunding Alternatives.â€
Woolsey, who arrived on the Hill in February 2008, had several conversations with students about entrepreneurship which contributed to the inspiration to create the EA. Daniel Hussey â€™13, a pre-med student and a science, technology and society major, is one member of the EA. â€œI became a member of the Entrepreneurial Alliance because it offers a resource to learn about business development and can help connect me to resources that can help me get my business up and running (through potential investors, etc),â€ Hussey said. Hussey has already exhibited his entrepreneurial spirit by purchasing a web domain, which he is currently developing into a website called liberalartscolleges.com. The website will act as a resource for college bound students to learn about the liberal arts college experience.
Hussey is just one example of a student who has already found success as an entrepreneur. â€œThe definition of entrepreneurship is pursuing an endeavor,â€ Woolsey said. â€œAs students pursue their entrepreneurial spirit, they should also remember that the greatest risk in life is not taking one.â€