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Coleman Entrepreneurial College In Action

Posted By Emily Sisk, Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cleveland Community College Walks the Talk When it Comes to Entrepreneurship in Action  

Emily Sisk, Grants Development Coordinator

Cleveland Community College, Shelby, North Carolina

(2013 Coleman Action Grant Awardee)

Cleveland Community College is a member of the 2013 Coleman Action Grantees and our goal in this project has been to strengthen the internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship, map resources for entrepreneurs, and increase enrollment and participation in Entrepreneurship courses, workshops, and events.   

We are finding that the NACCE resources, including the member portal of the website, are excellent resources for instructors. We participated in the NACCE Summit at Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory, NC) in June of 2013, as well as a follow-up visit to CVCC in July for informal benchmarking. We also found a wealth of resources at the 2013 NACCE Conference in Charlotte. The monthly community of practice conference calls have helped share best practices and understanding of the dynamics of community college systems beyond our state and region. Great things are happening in community colleges throughout the country!  

Our process to execute our project has been both focused and rewarding! But it didn’t just start with the grant, our staff spent several years preparing including:

  • Mapping resources available through NACCE and other channels
  • Visiting colleges and communities with proven track records in entrepreneurship development
  • Developing events within the community to foster awareness of entrepreneurship resources available to support entrepreneurial investigation 

We also improved communication between continuing education (non-credit), the Small Business Center, and our curriculum programs at CCC that has created an opportunity to develop stackable, articulated certificate options for students. We now have partnerships with Gardner-Webb University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Ethics and the Cleveland County K-12 Schools Entrepreneurship programs that creates a continuum of education in Entrepreneurship.  

In less than a year we have identified needed programmatic improvements including reevaluating the Entrepreneur certificate and improving enrollment in respective courses. We are also exploring the possibility for articulated credit from the Small Business Center seminars to credit-based business programs.   

It is really too early to say definitively what has worked or not worked. But we are really excited about our Entrepreneurship Expo, which takes place on April 30th. The event brings together entrepreneur and small business support vendors, includes panel discussions, entrepreneurship and innovation speakers, and a “FastPitch” competition for high school and college teams for a cash prize to help in growing their idea(s)!  

A key lesson learned through this project is that coordinating entrepreneurs and developing programs/resources to support entrepreneurial growth is itself an activity that requires entrepreneurial-type thinking and strategy. Our efforts are bringing excitement and a renewed focus on entrepreneurism in Cleveland County (NC).  

If you foster relationships, bring key community leaders and successful entrepreneurs into the fold you can achieve the right mix of resources and create opportunities for those with the passion and drive to initiate and act upon innovative ideas, business models, and business development. So, go out there and make it happen in your community!

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