Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College has pledged to join the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) in promoting and assisting entrepreneurial opportunities in Southwest Virginia.
The college joined Big Sandy Community College in Pikeville, Kentucky, in signing the NACCE’s Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge (PFEP). MECC President Kristen Westover along with Sherry Zylka of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) signed the PFEP pledge together during a recent ceremony in Pikeville. Area high school students, teachers and education officials participated in the event.
In taking the pledge, college presidents commit to five action steps aimed at advancing entrepreneurship in the classroom and in their communities. The action steps range from creating and expanding internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship, to increasing entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges and spurring innovation and job creation.
“Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial spirit are vital to the continued success of our region,” said Dr. Kristen Westover, MECC President. “Through the creation and support of existing entrepreneurs, MECC is committed to the expansion of entrepreneurial strategies to create new businesses, add opportunities for the region, and create conditions for a flourishing economy. Working with NACCE, we have the opportunity to apply proven methods to enhance entrepreneurial spirit and activity in our community.”
“The PFEP is a helpful tool for community college presidents who are seeking to embrace an entrepreneurial culture and mindset at their colleges,” said Rebecca Corbin, Ed.D., president and CEO of NACCE. “Signing the PFEP symbolizes their commitment to leveraging assets and maximizing entrepreneurial opportunities in their local communities and through the NACCE network.”
MECC and BSCTC share a common service area and similar demographics and are participants in the EntreEd program, which provides entrepreneurship curriculum for K-12 students. The two colleges are also recipients of Appalachian Regional Commission Power grants, which assists with retraining opportunities for laid-off coal miners and their families. The two presidents have vowed to work together to explore mutually beneficial collaborations.
NACCE is an organization of educators, administrators, presidents and entrepreneurs focused on igniting entrepreneurship in their communities and campuses. NACCE has two main goals: to empower college leaders to approach the business of running a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset and to grow the community college’s role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem. NACCE has over 330 member colleges, representing nearly 2,000 members and approximately 3.3 million students.