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Revitalizing local economies through business centers

Thursday, January 27, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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A prospective entrepreneur receives advice from staff at North Iowa Area Community College’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

by Ellen Ullman, Published January 26, 2011

Keith Kullberg knew his freshly prepared beans would be a hit in Portland, Ore. He was not afraid to launch a new business, but he knew nothing about the food industry.

Then he heard about Portland Community College’s(PCC) Recipe to Market Program, which covers food safety, recipe formulation, product and brand development, and distribution—everything a food entrepreneur needs to know to bring a product to life.

"In 13 weeks, I learned what would’ve taken at least nine months to figure out on my own,” Kullberg says.

The culmination of the program is a trade show-like event at which students present their products to New Seasons Market. The winner receives $2,000 and shelf space at New Seasons stores. Kullberg’s Better Bean Co.’s Skillet Refried Beans were this year’s winner.

Across the country, community colleges and small business development centers (SBDCs) are working together to provide classes, seminars, counseling and more to help revitalize their local economies. These relationships are mutually beneficial, as both parties have different but complementary skills and expertise.

"Community colleges are extremely focused on economic development. They’ve done a great job of integrating what they do with their communities,” says Antonio Doss, associate administrator of theOffice of SBDCs at the U.S. Small Business Administration. "SBDCs make sure small businesses have the opportunity to succeed. It’s a perfect match.”

"The better their connectivity, the better for the entire economic community,”says Trish Truitt, special projects manager for the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). "It’s a natural partnership that can be as effective as you want it to be.”

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