The College of Business Administration is helping students create, develop and launch business ventures with the creation of the Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy.
Director of the Griggs Center, Dr. Jim Litton said, “Some board members and successful alumni wanted to enhance the focus of the College of Business in the concept of entrepreneurship and philanthropy.”
Launched earlier this year, the Griggs Center develops co-curricular programs outside the classroom to accomplish its goals of promoting entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
“We have a lot of great things going on, like Springboard” Litton said.
Springboard is a program that includes competitions for students who want to test out their business concepts. The program also offers entrepreneur boot camps, which prepare the students’ ideas for judging in the competitions.
Litton also said the center has set up two student organizations, Students in Free Enterprise and Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. The newest is Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization.
“CEO has about 20 members and just launched this fall. The group provides a forum for students interested in this topic,” Litton said.
These groups are housed in the newly created eHub, located in the Moore House on the corner of EN 16th St. and Washington Boulevard.
Litton said the eHub is a vital part of the Griggs Center operation.
“The eHub houses many important aspects of the Griggs Center,” Litton said. “It provides students with a place for mentoring, studying and collaborating.”
At the eHub, mentoring is provided for students through entrepreneurs-in-residence. The program is made up of successful entrepreneurs, both locally and nationally.
“The ones that live outside of Abilene travel in on a regular basis. The entrepreneurs are always available to students through email, phone and video chat,” Litton said. “The goal is to provide mentoring from people who have gone on and been successful in their careers.”
The current entrepreneurs-in-residence are Jim Porter, former CEO and President of Triad Systems, Jerry Browder, founder and president of Signet Health Corporation, David Bruce, founder and CEO of Alliance Recruiting Resources, and Jarrod Brown, founder of Mission Lazarus. These men not only provide mentoring, but also create unique opportunities for students.
For instance, Jarrod Brown, founder of non-profit organization, Mission Lazarus, is working with the College of Business Administration to provide a unique learning experience for students interested in studying entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
The opportunity will begin with a social entrepreneurship class, taught by Litton and associate professor, Dr. Andy Little, will begin in the spring. The class is ended with a trip to Mission Lazarus’ Honduras operation, where the students will work directly with Brown’s organization.
“This trip will open student’s eyes and inspire them to go in the direction the College of Business wants students to go,” Little said.
Dean of the College of Business Administration, Dr. Rick Lytle, said he agrees that this project will open the students’ eyes and change their way of thinking about the world.
“The students will be faced with the question of how do you go into developing countries that don’t have the resources we have and help struggling economies and create jobs and businesses,” Lytle said. “I am super excited about the Honduras project.”
Lytle said the students would create a business with Mission Lazarus and bring it back to campus.
“Through the eHub we are going to establish a student-run retail organization that will import goods from Mission Lazarus. We would be the distribution arm.”
This would not be the first student-run business venture to be housed in the eHub. The Red Thread Movement is a non-profit which battles sex trafficking in developing countries. Started by ACU students, Brittany Partridge and Samantha Sutherland, the Red Thread Movement has been provided with office space and equipment through space and resources in the eHub.
Outside of the eHub, the Griggs Center is also tasked with creating curriculum options focused on entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Litton said the department is working on a new curriculum package, beginning next spring, which will revolve around entrepreneurship.
The 9 to 12 hour concentration will be for all ACU students, not just COBA,” said Litton.
While the Griggs Center’s primary concern is the students, the program is also reaching out to the community and the area around it.
“The impact of the Griggs center, the multi-faceted core of the program is on this campus, it is built for ACU students, but through making it for our students we are helping the community,” Lytle said. “We are doing things with the state and local government to help spawn entrepreneurship in the nineteen county area around Abilene.”
The Griggs Center plans on bringing the principles of entrepreneurship and philanthropy to the schools in surrounding communities.
“This will open up the door and give the opportunity to help others out in many different ways,” Litton said.
Some might wonder why the College of Business Administration would stress the teaching of entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
The university’s mission is to prepare students for Christian leadership around the world. Litton said the Griggs Center’s purpose goes hand in hand with this mission.
“One of the basic concepts behind marrying philanthropy with entrepreneurship is the hope that we are not only helping to train students and give them the skill sets to be successful in their careers in generating successful businesses as entrepreneurs but also making sure they have the focus of going out and giving back whether it be time, talent, resources or financial wealth to further God’s kingdom,” Litton said. “Part of our goal is to make sure students have that mindset when they leave.”
Lytle said he agrees in preparing students to become successful entrepreneurs, so they can give back to others.
“Most of the wealth that is distributed back to ACU is from entrepreneurs, because that is where the wealth is created in society. If people are going to have money, we want them to be Christian people that are concerned about what’s going on in the world and trying to help people,” Lytle said.
As the Griggs Center continues to execute its’ plan of educating students to become successful business owners, a generation of generous givers will rise up.
“Each year the Griggs Center continues to grow,” Lytle said. “The impact and the influence will continue to expand.”
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