Entrepreneurship Center connects startups, community

Published on Apr 27, 2015 10:15am

On The Record

Budding entrepreneurs need a variety of resources to grow ideas into thriving businesses, and accessing all those resources can be difficult. But now there is a new central place, offering assistance on everything from marketing to legal support to financing, at the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College.

The center celebrated its Grand Opening on March 10, drawing in community leaders and entrepreneurs who have used the center to bolster their businesses.

Vice President of Economic, Community and College Development, Dr. Michelle Mueller addressed the growing need to support new business owners, citing the increase in entrepreneurs nationally—now 14 percent of US workers— and also locally, where Ann Arbor SPARK has assisted more than 300 start-ups. “That’s why WCC’s Entrepreneurship Center is so important,” Mueller said. “It will meet this growing demand and support the entrepreneurs who are our students and who live in our community.”

WCC student Ericka Vonyea is growing her own business, an online fashion boutique, with the help of the center. “Usually when you go to school, the focus is teaching things so you can get a job, not giving you the training you need to produce your own business,” she said. “I believe in the vision of the center, and it’s incredible for us to have this here on campus.” Vonyea has attended workshops and seminars that have helped her create a long-term business plan. She will attend her first trade show, offered exclusively to store owners and designers, later this month.

Faculty have long noticed a need for a resource such as the Entrepreneurship Center, said Dr. Kimberly Hurns, dean of business and computer technologies. Hurns presented the initiative to develop the center as part of the strategic plan to WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, who received the idea with enthusiasm. “We truly have an entrepreneurial leader in Dr. Bellanca,” Hurns said.

Since the center opened last fall, it has assisted more than 100 students and community members, worked with off-campus business organizations such as Ann Arbor SPARK and Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and also hosted dozens of workshops and events.

For more information on the center, visit: wccnet.edu/entrepreneurship.