Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville is the latest in a state-wide rollout of a brand new program which will teach students how to start and run a business.
This was unveiled at a 10 a.m. new conference in the Student Commons area of the Evansville campus. The Geratoni School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation will exist to educate and even facilitate the next generation of small business start-ups in Evansville.
This program which will eventually reach all of Ivy Tech’s 19 locations. Indianapolis, Bloomington, South Bend and Fort Wayne were first in 2021.
Ronda Taylor is the Statewide Dean for this new school. She says the program is “applied,” not “conceptual.”
“So they actually start their business if they're ready while they are with us,” Taylor said. “And what that does, is being able to have those skills and tools that they need to be successful … that helps to keep them from failing within that ‘first one to five years’ that everyone knows about.”
Taylor says the first class of graduates from 2021 have 19 businesses up and running, like retro food truck Bloom Burger in Bloomington, and a holistic candle company, Keeping it Lit Candle Company in Indianapolis .
The plan is to have 20 students per cohort, but so far a diverse group of thirteen students will attend the fall semester. Student Earl McNary of Evansville said graduates of this program can be a good example to the youth of the community.
“If you've been watching the news, there's a lot of 12 and 13 year olds and 14 year-olds shooting and fighting,” said McNary. “So for this right here, they see somebody of color to come up and come up with a successful business. It can teach them ‘okay, this is something I can do’ instead of taking the other route.”
McNary said he has several possible business ideas, such as a higher quality competitor to a Chuck E. Cheese franchise.
This program is designed to usher students from start to finish in one year — like their certificate programs.
Chancellor Daniela Vidal said this can help students turn an HVAC or graphic design certificate into a viable business.
“Now they can combine that year-long program with this year-long program, put the two together and get an associate's degree, but now have very relevant courses not only to their field of passion, but also with the skills to start their business successfully.”
In Evansville, the program will be run in the Thomas A. Boeglin Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab, which was dedicated during the news conference.
The lab will feature co-working space and technology such as 3D printers. It was so-named following donations from Ivy Tech employees, family, and friends of Boeglin.
Boeglin passed away this spring. He was a beloved influential individual and business owner in the community — and father of current Ivy Tech President Sue Elspermann.