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Lorain County Community College's Blackstone Launchpad Encouraging Entrepreneurs to Develop Ideas

Tuesday, May 13, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guin Griswold
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ELYRIA — Blackstone Launchpad encourages budding entrepreneurs to invest energy in developing ideas rather than in searching for a traditional job.

"Instead of finding a job, creating a job," said Janice Lapina, program manager at Blackstone Launchpad at Lorain County Community College, 1005 North Abbe Road in Elyria.

Since opening in August 2012, Blackstone Launchpad helped launch 23 businesses and assisted six other businesses, Lapina said.

Also, the organization gathered 475 profiles of entrepreneurs eligible for service, including students, alumni, faculty and staff at LCCC, said Lee S. Kolczun, director of Blackstone Launchpad.

Of those profiles, 240 ventures or business ideas started on the way to owning and operating a business, Kolczun said.

“We meet with them, depending on their schedules,” Kolczun said. “We coach them on starting their business, or even on harvesting their business. We try to show the students how they can set up their business.”

Recently Commodore Books and More, a bookstore on the LCCC campus, provided retail space to display Blackstone Launchpad wares that are appropriate for a bookstore setting, Kolczun said.

The Blackstone Launchpad is funded by the Blackstone Charitable Organization in New York City, and by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Hudson, Ohio, Kosczun said.

A three-year grant supports the program located on the first floor of the Bass Library at LCCC, but does not support the ventures, Lapina said.

"The ideas are the students'," Kolczun said. "We help them develop those ideas into a profitable venture."

"We're the only community college in the country that has this program," Lapina said.

Three other educational establishments with a Blackstone Launchpad in Ohio include Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University, and Baldwin Wallace University, Kolczun said.

Since one challenge of starting a business is networking, Blackstone Launchpad encourages anyone in the community to attend FEBE 3, which stands for Fostering Entrepreneurial Business Education, Kolczun said.

From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. each Wednesday, FEBE 3 offers free coffee in the Richard Desich Business and Entrepreneurship Center, or DEC, across a parking lot from the Spitzer and Stocker centers at LCCC, Kolczun said.

"It's a networking café for entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs," Lapina said. "It meets through the summer, too."

To promote FEBE 3, Blackstone Launchpad joined two other entities on campus — Great Lakes Innovation Development Enterprise and the Small Business Development Center, Lapina said.

"We get together for educational purposes to help entrepreneurs run their business, create their business, and also harvest their business," Kolczun said.

For information, call Kolczun or Lapina at 440-366-4900.

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