According to Dr. Ileana M. Smith, vice president and campus director of the Owens Campus, located in Georgetown, it’s not a coincidence.
Smith says supporting start-ups at a community college has two main benefits to it. First off, Delaware Tech’s graduates become employed by starting up businesses. Secondly, it can lead to more jobs for Del Tech’s future graduates with said start-up businesses.
According to Smith, many start-ups and small businesses present on campus when they are new to the business world. As they grow, they come back to present and hire Delaware Tech graduates as employees.
Take 1 Million Cups for example. 1 Million Cups is one of Delaware Tech’s biggest programs to help small businesses. It is a nationwide program that launched in July 2013 at the Owens Campus, as a way to educate and connect local entrepreneurs by using a program developed by the Kauffman Foundation.
Smith says this program is an established method for the institution to build connections and establish businesses at the school and in the community.
In celebration of Entrepreneurship Week this year, Paul Cullen, founder of Tune Your Palate, spoke to the public at the weekly 1 Million Cups event.
Tune Your Palate is a successful business, run by a Delaware local, serving delicious cuisine and good tunes. Although successful now, Cullen had to start somewhere. Cullen spoke at Delaware Tech when he was first getting his start in the business world. Smith says watching the college’s presenters grow is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
1 Million Cups is one of the many events promoting small businesses in the community.
Each year, Delaware Tech attracts small businesses and students for its Social Media Conference. This conference is a way for local business owners to present their “ins and outs” of marketing on social media to the community and for small businesses owners to gain knowledge for their personal businesses.
Lastly, take one of Delaware Tech’s most recent events, ‘Drones for Delaware.’
The Drones for Delaware event showcased local business, Ryan Media Lab, and its newest piece of technology, the tethered drone. This event helped the founders of this company educate the public on the usage of drones and why they are important.
Although Delaware Tech does a good job connecting with the community, Smith admits it isn’t the easiest task. Connecting with the community is something Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus has worked on over the years.
“We listen well, we’re very alert, we have strong ties to the community and we’re always scouting the environment for something new.”
As Delaware Tech celebrates 50 years, the college realizes how serious it is to get to know the community. Smith says introducing these small businesses to the students and the community is a big part of preparing people for employment, but Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus isn’t the only community college helping with small businesses.
“Community colleges in general are really community institutions. They are very focused on the community, the well being and prosperity in the community. Building connections— that’s what its all about.”
Smith says at the end of the day, hearing positive feedback from the community makes working for the community that much more rewarding.
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