Spirit of Entrepreneurship 'Alive and Well' at Genesee Community College

If you use words such as "highly motivated," "persistent," "independent," and "creative" to describe yourself, you may want to add "entrepreneur" to the list.

The spirit of entrepreneurship - the desire to create a niche in today's ever-changing business world - is alive and well at Genesee Community College. More and more students are taking a close look at the Entrepreneurship program at Genesee, according to the faculty director.

"We as faculty members and business leaders need to make sure that high school graduates and adult learners realize that entrepreneurship is a viable career option," said Barbara Shine, Business department faculty and program director. "You, too, can realize your dreams of managing a business or owning your own business."

Genesee offers an associate in applied science degree and a certificate in Entrepreneurship. The A.A.S. program gives the student a solid foundation in business management, marketing, accounting, computer technology and problem-solving, Shine said.

"These are essential tools that will help build a bridge to a successful business - regardless of the type of enterprise the student pursues," Shine added.

Genesee also offers a 30 credit hour certificate program that concentrates on the primary business courses. Both programs include a capstone project of researching and writing a business plan.

Research indicates that entrepreneurs are developing nearly four million new businesses in the United States each year, resulting in new jobs and opportunities. A Department of Commerce study revealed that companies with less than 20 employees created most of the jobs in the past decade, and that companies with less than 500 workers employ more than half of the American workforce.

Furthermore, it reported that seven of 10 high school students say they would like to start their own business.

For Genesee graduate Todd Bender, who played a key role in the success of the Pakhound parcel tracking company in Batavia, entrepreneurship means more than running a business - it's the driving force that has made America great.

"Entrepreneurship is a mindset that some people possess, and because of this they elevate themselves rapidly, whether they're working for a big company or owning their own business," Bender said. "People with this spirit say, 'This is mine; I'm going to build it the way I believe it is going to succeed."

After attending Genesee, Bender went on to obtain electrical engineering and business administration degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology. Recently, Birddog Solutions of Omaha, Neb., purchased Pakhound. Bender's current title is vice president of marketing for Birddog Solutions.

He said the business curriculum at Genesee enabled him to utilize his entrepreneurship skills. "People can really flourish. It's a good degree program for someone going into business."

Faculty members with extensive business and management experience work closely with students, Shine said. Students can take courses at the main campus in Batavia, at all five campus centers or through distance learning programs.

The College's Small Business Development Center office, located at the BEST Center in the Conable Technology Building on the main campus, offers free business advice and counseling. Facilitators of this program work hand-in-hand with the business faculty to guide students and potential small business owners through the entrepreneurship process.

Upon earning their degrees from Genesee Community College, many graduates including Entrepreneurship students opt to transfer to a four-year college or university to earn bachelors or higher degrees. Genesee's Career and Transfer Center specializes in helping students and graduates successfully transfer to public and private colleges and universities across New York State and the nation.

For more information about the Entrepreneurship program, contact Shine at 343-0055, ext. 6319, or e-mail her at bashine@genesee.edu.