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This article was originally published on 07/08/2013. Information and links within may no longer be applicable.

New course to help students launch business in one semester

Virginia Western Community College is launching a new business course this fall that teaches student and prospective entrepreneurs how to launch their own business in one semester. The Entrepreneurship Plus Program will offer unique hands-on experience and act as a business incubator.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to offer an entrepreneurship course that should be of great interest to the region,” Virginia Western President Robert Sandel said. “Students will enjoy the benefits of having a dynamic program coordinator with business experience in Samantha Steidle.”

Virginia Western’s standard tuition rates apply to the course. The college’s Workforce Solutions will host shorter workshops, which will give a sample of the content. Open enrollment is available now, to find out more, visit www.virginiawestern.edu.

“This program aims to help people help themselves in an economy that is challenging workers to become more entrepreneurial,” said Steidle, owner of the Business Lounge in downtown Roanoke.   Steidle, who developed the course, will also serve as its instructor.

“I had been teaching classes at Virginia Western for several semesters when I got the idea for this program,” Steidle said. “We are emphasizing practical, hands-on experience that results in businesses ready to serve customers.”

The program is intended to be a launching pad for businesses in the Roanoke Valley. Based upon enrollment, 20 – 30 viable new businesses per semester are possible.

The Small Business Development Center and Virginia Department of Business Assistance are assisting with the program, and Downtown Roanoke Inc. has pledged to help students with the fledgling enterprises, particularly as they look for spaces in which to open shop.

The program takes its place in an array of entrepreneurially focused classes at nearby colleges and universities, including Radford University, Roanoke College, and Virginia Tech.

“Our American economy is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit and small business,” said Jim Poythress, Vice President of Virginia Western’s Workforce Development Services. “If we are to continue to be globally competitive, we must foster the entrepreneurial aspirations of our citizenry to ensure that we have synergistic and dynamic growth in the innovation of ideas, products, and services. This program provides an ideal opportunity to foster these aspirations.”

Quotes from supporters of the Entrepreneurship Plus Program

“The more budding entrepreneurs can learn about creating and growing a new business, the better chance those businesses will succeed. Small businesses need an array of resources to prosper. Fortunately, we have many available to help foster their success, including Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center no-charge counseling and low-cost classes, and a variety of college courses, like Entrepreneurship Plus, throughout the region.”
– Joyce Waugh, President Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce

“The lean startup movement is a methodology for helping start-up companies target the needs of their customers before actually launching a product. This concept is helping founders understand what the market demands; which in turn, mitigates the risks of launching and the outcome is much more successful.”
– Derick Maggard, Executive Director Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council & StartUp Class Instructor at Virginia Tech

“Virginia is rich in resources for small businesses getting started and connecting new entrepreneurs to opportunities is our number one objective. Starting a new business can be exciting, but also very scary and having support resources accessible can make that leap of faith into a new enterprise little easier. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance is your one stop to business resources in the Commonwealth.”

– Sandy Ratliff, Business Services Manager - Southwest Office at Virginia Department of Business Assistance

“Budding entrepreneurs are necessary for this region to continue to grow. Even though some characteristics of entrepreneurs are natural, many of the skills necessary for the entrepreneur to be successful must be taught and as such, specialize training must be available.”

– Tom Tanner, Small Business Consultant at the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center

“Unfortunately there are not enough jobs in Virginia and in the world for each of us. It is critically important to or future to learn how to start and manage a new business. Now here is a course that helps you get started. It's a wonderful opportunity.”

–  Cabell Brand, Chairman of the Cabell Brand Center; Founder of Total Action Against Poverty in the Roanoke Valley

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