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Aspiring Entrepreneurs Will Be Trained Through ODU Business Gateway Under Federal Grant

Old Dominion University will team up with Tidewater Community College to provide entrepreneurship training to 250 Hampton Roads residents under a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Labor grant awarded to regional workforce and staffing agency Opportunity Inc.

The grant expands current U.S. Department of Labor-funded entrepreneurship efforts in Northern Virginia and Richmond to the Hampton Roads region. Opportunity Inc., the operating arm of the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, has tapped the ODU Business Gateway to coordinate the mentorship program and enrichment activities of the grant.

In its grant application, Opportunity Inc. said the ODU Business Gateway "serves as the center for economic development activities, including business creation, attraction and retention efforts."

Specifically, the Gateway will provide program development, coordination, training, networking and other enrichment activities for the innovative initiative. The grant aims to deliver services more efficiently and achieve better outcomes by integrating such entrepreneurship services within the Public Workforce System, to enable hundreds of job seekers eligible under the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to grow assets and attain long-term self-sufficiency through self-employment.

In the current economy, the role of entrepreneurship in creating new jobs has been pushed to the forefront of the economic development agenda at both the state and national level as a viable alternative to wage employment. Gov. Bob McDonnell has declared 2012 as "The Year of the Entrepreneur" in Virginia to highlight the significant role of entrepreneurs in job creation.

The investment in entrepreneurship, however, isn't reflected in the way job creation statistics are tabulated under WIA rules. WIA performance measures do not recognize job creation as a legitimate system outcome, only job placement.

Participants in the entrepreneurship training program will receive instruction in vital skills such as business planning, accounting, finance and credit, website design and market research, and financial projections and funding sources, including business loans.

Opportunity Inc. serves eight localities in south and western Hampton Roads. The organization is charged with developing strategies and programs that support the needs of business and industry for a workforce that is skilled, capable and able to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace.

Located in Innovation Research Park @ ODU, the ODU Business Gateway provides a single, consistent entry point to the intellectual capital, innovative technologies and world-class infrastructure of the university, part of the university's mission to provide real world expertise and seek partnerships with business.

This article was posted on: July 16, 2012

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