Ivy Tech leads way for state

The Herald-Times

 It’s Your Business
Ivy Tech leads way for state

By Steve Bryant A Bloomington voice

The Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship is a unique part of the Ivy Tech Community College system. In fact, nothing like it yet exists on any campus other than Ivy Tech-Bloomington.

With the blessing of both Gayle and Bill Cook and the Cook family, we named the center after arguably two of the most successful entrepreneurs in the state of Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Cook had the vision to create a program that provides simple and practical tools for our students, individuals starting a business and our community that enable entrepreneurial ideas to bloom. We would like to share some successes with you because we are excited about the results.

When we founded the center, we had no entrepreneurship classes at Ivy Tech. Ivy Tech-Bloomington and the Cook Center provided the seed investment and leadership to create an academic program in entrepreneurial studies from scratch starting in 2010.

The program has grown into a set of six classes that prepare our students for creating their own jobs. Enrollment statewide has grown to more than 160 students (300 percent growth) in just over a year. We recently launched online entrepreneurial studies classes, which have proven very popular across the state. We are awaiting approval of a technical certificate in entrepreneurship to provide another value-added offering for students.

We have students from our Business Administration program enrolled in the entrepreneurial classes, but have also attracted students from many other majors (think culinary, technology, liberal arts) who have an idea for a business but need to know where to start, how to develop a plan and where to go for resources to start and grow their businesses.

Many successful business owners and professional service providers regularly speak in our classes to provide real world experiences that are invaluable to those who have not “been there.” Several of our students have started their businesses while at Ivy Tech and this is now happening across the state. Again, good news for Indiana and our region!

The Cook Center provides consulting and mentoring services for our students and individuals in our region looking to start or grow a business. A recent survey of our clients showed all of them have projected growth in revenue earned and in new people to be hired in 2014. Some are the only employee, but they started their business.

We provided insight, connections and referrals to other resources to enable them to move forward and create wealth and jobs in our community. We’re really proud of that. Our CEO Roundtable program has provided two dozen existing business owners with a forum to solve problems while growing their business. We also have talked many people out of starting a business that they were not prepared for, which we deem a success. There have been a lot of these to be frank, but we have found that we led them to a “gut check” that was essential to keeping them from pursuing a bad idea and potential financial ruin.

Many thanks to Chancellor Emeritus John R. Whikehart, who provided the leadership that allowed Ivy Tech-Bloomington to design and launch these programs at the college and was our champion for making it happen. The impact on entrepreneurs in our region and the state has been immense. We’re keeping the pedal to the metal in 2014.

Please visit our website at www.ivytech.edu/entrepreneurship for more information.

Steve Bryant is executive director of the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College. Next week’s column will be from the H-T business staff.

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