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State Welcomes “Entrepreneurship Week”

After one course in Entrepreneurship at Manchester Community College, Brian Rankl used what he learned to start his own junk removal business, Mr. Junk.

“The Manchester course equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to start my own business,” Rankl said. “Entrepreneurship education gives you the essential tools to become successful in today’s business environment.”

Rankl is continuing to work towards his associate in science degree at Manchester Community College while running his small side business. “Community college has given Brian the flexibility he needs to pursue his degree at the same time that he’s putting what he’s learning to work to build his own business,” said Janeczek.

Rankl and others will participate in “Entrepreneur Week” supported but the state Connecticcut Community Colleges. The event is a part of the National Entrepreneurship Week from Feb. 21 to 28, with special activities offered in conjunction with the CCCs’ innovative Entrepreneurship and Small Business academic programs and initiatives.

Among the special activities at the CCCs celebrating Entrepreneurship Week will be “preliminary elevator speech” competitions at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Manchester Community College, and Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport. The activities are free and open to the public.

This is the third year of the annual National Entrepreneurship Week, which encourages support for the growth of entrepreneurship education as a lifelong process. The Week is promoted by The National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, whose mission is to champion entrepreneurship education, provide advocacy and leadership, and promote quality practices and programs.

“Our economy grows because of our entrepreneurs and their creative thinking,” said Professor Rose Bednarz-Luglio of Gateway Community College. “Our students are either going to be entrepreneurs or work for entrepreneurs, since approximately 99% of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.”

The theme across the state during National Entrepreneurship Week is “Entrepreneurship Empowers Everyone!” In her proclamation declaring the special week in the State of Connecticut, Governor M. Jodi Rell emphasizes that “entrepreneurship is vital to Connecticut’s growth and prosperity in both the near and distant future in this highly-competitive, global economy,” and ” entrepreneurial education can bring together the core academic, technical and problem-solving skills essential for future entrepreneurs and successful workers.”

“Entrepreneurship is truly a win-win situation for all involved,” said Theresa Janeczek, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and business at Manchester Community College. “It empowers individuals to generate their own jobs while stimulating our local economy.”

The United States is transforming into a global, entrepreneurial and knowledge- and innovation-based New Economy, according to the 2008 State New Economy Index released in November 2008 by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). “Being well positioned means that state economies need to be firmly grounded in the New Economy,” reports the study, which defines the New Economy as rooted in information technology and “a global, entrepreneurial, and knowledge-based economy in which the keys to success lie in the extent to which knowledge, technology, and innovation are embedded in products and services.”

The Index gives Connecticut an overall ranking of sixth in the nation regarding the degree that the structure of the state economy matches the ideal structure of the New Economy.

According to the Kauffmann Foundation, “States at the top of the ranking tend to have a high concentration of managers, professionals and college-educated residents working in ‘knowledge jobs’-those that require at least a two-year degree.” The Index ranks Connecticut second in the nation based on seven Knowledge Jobs indicators, reporting that “In today’s New Economy, knowledge-based jobs are driving prosperity…Such skilled and educated workers are the backbone of states’ most important industries, from high value-added manufacturing to high-wage traded services.”

The Index stresses that “the current slowdown, caused in large part by higher energy prices and excesses in the housing market that have spurred turmoil in the financial services industry, will not last forever.” The most effective companies take advantage of slowdowns to better position themselves for subsequent periods of strong economic growth, it reports, and states should be focused on “whether their economies are well positioned for robust growth and innovation over the next decade.”

The Connecticut Community Colleges educate new entrepreneurs through both credit and non-credit programs and courses, ranging from Associate Degree and Certificate Programs in Entrepreneurial Studies to specialized programs, such as the arts entrepreneur, a credit certificate program offered by Quinebaug Valley Community College. Numerous workshops and seminars in business planning, marketing, and small business finance are also offered by the CCCs.

Gateway Community College hosts the Gateway Small Business Center in collaboration with Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE); SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business”; the U.S. Small Business Administration; and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Other Connecticut Community Colleges will be developing similar Small Business Centers.

For more information, go to www.nationaleweek.org.

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