After only six years as part of the Business and Management department at Dakota County Technical College (DCTC), the college’s Business Entrepreneur program has earned three national awards that are a testament to the excitement and entrepreneurial spirit those involved with the program are bringing to it.
In early January, the DCTC Business Entrepreneur program earned the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) Faculty Member of the Year, the NACCE/New York Times Student Essay Award, and a Coleman and Hughes Foundation grant for the college to start a new speaker series and networking group for entrepreneurs.
“The Business Entrepreneur program runs on a spirit of innovation and excellence, along with the strong bonds that are shared by the faculty, staff, alumni, and students that are part of it,” said DCTC Associate Dean Christine Pigsley. “The level of success that this program and its students have exhibited up to this point is only the beginning of what I see happening into the future.”
Bob Voss, head of the Business Entrepreneur program at DCTC, received the award for NACCE Faculty Member of the Year, along with $1000 cash and another $1000 in matching funds to support DCTC’s entrepreneurial programming.
Voss has been an instructor at the college since the Business Entrepreneur program was formed in 2002. He is well known at the college for his innovative teaching style and close ties with students ” particularly during the critical start-up periods of their businesses.
“I worked as a full-time entrepreneur up until six years ago when it became my mission to teach and give new entrepreneurs the opportunity to make connections,” said Voss. “Entrepreneurial endeavors aren’t easy to make alone. That is why DCTC, myself, my colleagues, and all of the students that come into the program work together to aid entrepreneurs in being successful.”
One student who is already seeing results from Voss’ teaching formula is DCTC Business Entrepreneur student Mary Glock, who was the recipient of the New York Time/NACCE Student Essay Contest.
Glock submitted an essay on why entrepreneurial education is so vital to community college, drawing from her own experiences as a non-traditional, mature student who is making the journey from a single mother to a small business owner.
In 2007, Glock started two businesses – Detailed Promotions, a marketing and promotional company, and Traveling Footprints, which offers travel planning services that benefit charitable causes.
During her tearful acceptance speech for the award, Glock shared that her business became profitable in its first month of operation.
“Without the support I received from Dakota County Technical
College, I would never have had the courage to start my own business,” she said.
Glock received $1000 cash as part of the award, with the college received a matching funds for its entrepreneurship programming.
Also receiving an award at the NACCE annual meeting in San Antonio was Associate Dean Christine Pigsley, who was given three minutes to make a presentation to obtain funding for a new entrepreneurial project to a panel of board members from the Coleman and Hughes Foundations.
As a result of her presentation, Pigsley was awarded $3600 that will be used to pilot an innovative project called ‘The Sounding Board.’ This innovative project will consist of monthly sessions that will feature speakers on various business topics, a facilitated networking session, and an opportunity for business owners to bring their challenges before the group for collective problem solving and support.
The funding received will allow the program to run for nine months to determine if it should become a permanent source of support for the college’s entrepreneurial programming.
Sessions during the program’s pilot will be held in the evenings at the Apple Valley site of DCTC and will be open to current students, alumni, and the general public at no cost.
According to a survey commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation, a leading authority on the phenomenon of entrepreneurship, four out of 10 young Americans aged eight to 21 expressed interest in starting their own business at some point in the future. Another 37 percent needed to know more about the subject, but considered the door open to an entrepreneurial enterprise. More than 60 percent of the survey’s respondents believed that hard work would give them the edge required to start their own business.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports exponential growth in small business ownership, particularly among women and minority Americans. The latest statistics compiled by the Small Business Administration report that small businesses make up 97.7 percent of the firms in the U.S., providing 51 percent of the employment and 45 percent of the private sector payroll.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce states that thriving entrepreneurial communities will define the successful economies of the 21st century. A recent USCC report states that, “Entrepreneurship and the independence that come with owning a business and being one’s own boss remain our country’s distinct advantage.”