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story.lead_photo.caption Little Rock Venture Center Executive Director Wayne Miller (from left), Gov. Asa Hutchinson and University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College Chancellor Margaret Ellibee unveil the Student Entrepreneur Education Collective during a Women In STEM workshop Friday at the school. - Photo by Jeff Gammons

Future entrepreneurs at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College will have access to "real-life" business experience through a partnership with a Little Rock nonprofit beginning next month.

At a Friday luncheon focused on increasing female participation in science, technology, engineering and math, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Pulaski Tech administrators announced the school's new partnership with the Venture Center.

The new Student Entrepreneur Education Cooperative will debut in October, offering students in the college's entrepreneurial program case-study opportunities and mentorship through the Little Rock-based nonprofit that provides support to young businesses.

"Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Arkansas," the Republican governor said. "By supporting imagination, courage and drive of our student entrepreneurs, we will continue to build a better Arkansas for people across the state."

Pulaski Tech's two-year entrepreneurial program allows students to obtain associate degrees or industry certificates, and it focuses on equipping students to start their own businesses.

Margaret Ellibee, chancellor of Pulaski Tech, and Venture Center Executive Director Wayne Miller said they hope the new partnership will help connect the ideas and principles students learn in the classroom to the business world. Miller said it is the first program of its kind in Arkansas.

Students in the program may access five different focus areas:

• Live entrepreneurial case studies at the Venture Center.

• One-on-one mentorship.

• One-hour "elevator pitch" workshop.

• Online entrepreneur case studies.

• Sales class led by Miller.

The Venture Center is in the Little Rock Technology Park in downtown Little Rock. It bills itself online as an "entrepreneurial support organization that helps entrepreneurs turn their startups into viable, high-growth businesses."

Miller said his organization could provide students with both positive and negative insights into the world of entrepreneurship.

"[Pulaski Tech's] program is curricular; it's all in a three-ring binder, if you will," he said. "We have people that have been in the trenches. They've scraped their knees and bumped their heads."

Ellibee agreed, adding that at the Venture Center students will see firsthand what it takes to start a business.

"You have to have a range of skills from common technical knowledge to competitiveness and grit," she said. "They can see that in action at the Venture Center."

Miller said that the Venture Center has worked with a lot of tech startups, and that it has also worked with entrepreneurs in other industries such as brewing and food service. The group's ultimate goal is to help entrepreneurs reach their goals fast, thereby saving capital.

The governor said Friday that the announcement paired with the work his administration has done to increase computer science education in Arkansas public schools. Female participation in computer coding has increased in Arkansas, but Hutchinson said that more work is necessary to bring female participation to equal levels of male participation.

He said that the Pulaski Tech-Venture Center partnership was great economic development news for the state and community.

"We talk about tech in terms of good-paying jobs," Hutchinson said. "But another way to look at technology is entrepreneurship. You can create your own opportunity."

Metro on 09/28/2019

Print Headline: Pulaski Tech set to talk business

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