YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new partnership between Eastern Gateway Community College and the Youngstown chapter of Score could foster entrepreneurship nationwide. But for now, the focus is on helping the 35,000 students at the community college.
The partnership, dubbed the Entrepreneurship Academy, will bring another layer to Eastern Gateway’s business courses. While the courses EGCC offers cover the fundamentals of running a business, they don’t always delve into some of the finer points, such as startup financing.
“It’s part of an overall learning process for business, management, leadership,” says Art Daly, vice president of EGCC’s Youngstown campus. “A lot of these younger adults want to start their own business but are never given a roadmap or blueprint on how to do it. This offers them that opportunity.”
Before, Daly says, when students had questions about specific things they needed to do, they’d be referred to agencies like the Small Business Administration. Now the process is kept in-house and students can go to Score’s office on campus. Students will also have direct access to Ron Emery, president of the Score chapter.
Score was looking to “broaden our audience and be of value to the community as a whole,” Emery says.
Among the Score resources available to students will be its mentorship network, forums and events.
Already, Score has offices at Youngstown State University and works with the Entrepreneurship Center at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa. Bringing an office to EGCC further broadens the base of students Score can reach, he says.
“What’s our mission? To develop the next series of entrepreneurs,” Emery says. “That could be someone who lost their job last week and now wants to start a coffee shop. Or it could be someone who already has a career in barbering and wants to go out on their own.”
About a third of Eastern Gateway’s students are enrolled in business programs, Daly says. The new partnership will bring a “complete immersion” of Score resources into those courses, he says.
“It doesn’t matter what level you’re at if you’re interested in starting a business. If you’re a student at a community college or at a university, there’s a level playing field when it comes to learning and understanding how to find funding or develop a business plan,” Daly says. “It’s a great opportunity for our students to learn just like they would if they were at Westminster [College] or YSU.”
Score’s programming at Eastern Gateway will likely be similar to what was effected at Westminster, Emery says. There, in addition to connecting students with business leaders for mentoring, the organization hosted roundtables to discuss topics that often came up in forums with students.
“A lot of students [at Westminster] are interested in real estate. They wanted to know how they’d get started, either in commercial real estate or a residential standpoint, and how they could build an organization,” Emery says, offering an example. “We designed a roundtable around that particular subject. It’s really trying to listen to what customers – whether they’re clients or students – want, then putting something together that goes beyond.”
One of the biggest differences between operating on the campus of Westminster and Eastern Gateway, is the student body. Westminster has an enrollment of just over 1,500; EGCC has 35,000 students in its in-person and online courses, with many of the latter living outside the area.
With that in mind, Daly and Emery see the program spreading beyond local counties the community college serves. With more than 250 chapters nationwide, it’s feasible that EGCC and Youngstown Score could connect the college’s distant students with their local Score chapter.
“I don’t think we fully understand where this could go and how big it could get. It’s all about changing the mindset of the community we’re working in. Those communities could be in California, in Puerto Rico, in the Northeast,” Emery says. “We’re trying to change people’s mindsets so they think of all the possibilities and are positioned to grow.”