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Henry Ford Community College Expanding Business Program

Tuesday, May 31, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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Henry Ford Community College is working on plans to create an entrepreneurship center to help its students and other community members who want to start their own business.

The three-tiered plans call for revamping the existing associate's degree in entrepreneurship, creating an entrepreneurship center, and offering quick, non-credit programs for those looking to start a business.

"Mind you, we haven't really done it yet. We are still in the planning stages,” cautioned Ed Chielens, interim vice president of Academic Affairs for Career and Technical Programs.

Still, administrators presented their ideas to the board of trustees and are pursuing a $20 million grant with three other community colleges that have or want to create such programs. The grants aid programs that help workers who have lost their jobs to overseas production.

HFCC's share would be $3.8 million.

"If we got it, we'd go for a bigger center. We'd probably go for an incubator,” Chielens said.

For now, the entrepreneurship effort does not have its own budget.

Plans call for the center to open in the Instructional Technology Center. A part-time manager will arrange for programs such as seminars, hopefully create an entrepreneurship competition for the high schools, and find businesspeople to mentor students, Chielens said.

Interior design students created a plan for remodeling the center area.

"They did a very professional job, so we are going to take their design and use what we can of it,” Chielens said. There is not enough money to do all the things they suggested, he said.

The college should know by fall if it received the grant. Hopefully by then, the committee will have developed a timeline for when the center will open and when other changes should be completed.

HFCC is also looking to revamp its existing entrepreneurship degree and create an entrepreneurship certificate program. The six- or seven-credit certificate would be useful to interior design, graphic design, automotive technology, HVAC and other students who may want to start their own business when they graduate.

"The mission of HFCC's program is to offer students a second option to the goal of getting a job; that is to create a job,” says the report to the board of trustees.

The current entrepreneurship certificate is a collection of business classes the college wants to revamp to include broader ideas like recognizing opportunity, Chielens said. The new program would culminate in students writing a business plan.

HFCC became interested in entrepreneurship when the New Economy Initiative invited it and several other metro Detroit colleges and universities to meet and consider such an initiative.

"Eventually we were dropped off that project,” Chielens said.

But administrators' interest had been piqued.

HFCC joined the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship and attended that group's annual conference.

"We learned a lot there. There are a lot of community colleges that have well-developed programs,” Chielens said.

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