Washington State University Vancouver will launch a new entrepreneurship major within its Carson College of Business next fall, saying it is responding to strong community and academic support of Southwest Washington’s growing business startup culture.
WSUV students will be able to major or minor in entrepreneurship within the business college, said Jane Cote, academic director for the Carson College of Business. Classes will appeal not only to business students but to other students who want to develop an entrepreneurial way of thinking, she said.
The program responds to strong public interest in such a program that surfaced in the university’s own examination of its programs and community outreach efforts two years ago, she said. In that review process, “entrepreneurship rose to the top as one of the programs this community needs at this time,” Cote said.
“We want to make sure when great ideas percolate, not only from students but from the community, that we can help make those ideas into great businesses,” she added.
While WSUV has been quiet in preparing the new program, it has been increasingly visible in Southwest Washington’s startup and small-business community.
The college’s Business Growth Mentor & Analysis Program is a co-sponsor with the Columbia River Economic Development Council’s Grow Clark County program of a Nov. 18 business innovation forum that features Tim Boyle, CEO of Beaverton, Ore.-based Columbia Sportswear, as keynote speaker. Boyle’s topic is “From local to global: How Columbia Sportswear fuels growth through innovation.”
The forum, the local contribution to world-wide activities as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St., Vancouver. Tickets are $20 and registration is required. To reserve, visit credc.org/events.
WSUV currently has about 400 students enrolled in its Carson College of Business, Cote said. She expects the entrepreneurship major to take off slowly as new students enter the business college and believes it could attract about 100 students per year after five years. While an entrepreneurial major is offered in Pullman, she said the program in Vancouver “will have a local flavor” due to Vancouver’s metropolitan locale and proximity to Portland. “We can build on our local and regional strengths,” she said.
Cote said an argument can be made that an entrepreneurship program should not be within the college of business, since innovation and entrepreneurship cross many lines in personal and professional life. By offering a minor in the topic, students in various fields of study can immerse themselves in an entrepreneurial way of thinking, she said.
Rohny Saylors, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at WSUV, said the program will focus on local businesses and on “growing the local economy by developing firms that have a global perspective.”
The program also targets social, economic, and environmental stainability and will work to bring together students from across the college campus, he said.
“We need to be developing diverse entrepreneurial teams that can experiment (and) bootstrap new ventures and then learn from failure,” he said.
The new program comes at a time when several community-wide initiatives have been launched to recruit and grow innovative businesses.
The CREDC has set as one of its five strategic goals its desire to lead develop and support business innovation.