The Entrepreneurship Center Open House was well attended, to say the least.
More than 120 entrepreneurs, community members and Washtenaw Community College faculty, staff and students crowded into room 120 in the Plant Operations building on Oct. 30, eager to learn about the new Entrepreneurship Center.
The center, which opened this fall, is a space to help budding entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. Students and community members can discuss business plans, meet potential clients and consult with experts, such as lawyers and designers. Computers and an open floor plan provide opportunities for group work and workshops. WCC professors and local professionals provide free information sessions on topics related to starting a business.
The center itself was an idea that developed from the college’s first Strategic Plan. One of the goals under the plan is to provide more workforce development for both students and the greater Washtenaw County community.
WCC offers a business program as well as an entrepreneurship certificate. “We also find that a lot of students across all disciplines become entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Kimberly Hurns, interim dean of business and computer technologies.
Aaron Richardson is a WCC graduate who has since started his own business, Rich Decisions Professional Detailing.
“I think having this center is long overdue,” he said. “When you’re able to talk with other business owners and experts and pick their brains, that’s priceless.”
“One of the hardest things to do is make contacts,” said K.C. Keel, a WCC student who aspires to open his own business. “And who you know is so important. I’m really excited about this center—I’ll take in as much information as I can.”
The Entrepreneurship Center is located directly across the hall from the Small Business Development Center of Michigan. Since the SBDC helps businesses obtain financing and determine a growth strategy, it’s easy to see how an idea could begin at the Entrepreneurship Center and launch with the SBDC.
Biggby Coffee is offering free coffee from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday at the center to promote visitors. But if the turnout at the Open House is any indication, the center won’t need help attracting people.
“I’m amazed by the turnout,” Hurns said. “I think it really speaks to the pent-up demand for this type of resource. And there was so much positive energy! The exact type of energy we need to harness the spirit of entrepreneurship across campus.”