New entrepreneurship center to teach students how to be their own boss

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Through an initiative by President Bill Perry last August, a new entrepreneur center called Sustainable Entrepreneurship through Education and Development will have its grand opening Feb. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in the Lumpkin Hall Auditorium.

Marko Grünhagen, the director of the SEED center, said the grand opening would feature the identification of the new center and two speakers later that day at 5 p.m. in the Roberson Auditorium of Lumpkin Hall.

Steve Raymond, publisher of The Effingham & Teutopolis News Report, is one of the speakers with Anne Harnett, an Eastern graduate who is involved with the publishing industry in Chicago.

Hartnett was recently named as one of Techweek Chicago’s 2014 Women’s Leadership fellows, a program to showcase and enable emerging female leaders in business and technology, and 2014 Folio’s Top Women in Media, according to an Eastern press release.

Grünhagen said the center has three pillars with the goal of teaching students how to run a business on their own.

One of the pillars is education through the entrepreneurship minor, which has increased by 10 percent in the last year.

Grünhagen said this is the fifth year operating the entrepreneurship minor, but the outreach aspect has been around since before the center’s name change from The Business Solution Center.

Outreach is the second pillar, and the center has a business coach on staff who offers free and confidential coaching to startup businesses in 10 counties.

He said the center usually helps 40 to 60 businesses a year in the 10 counties surrounding Eastern for their outreach.

The last pillar is research, which is still in development, but the hope with this aspect is for students to be able to work on a project with a professor.

“We’re still in the process of creating the criteria for the funding,” Grünhagen said.

He said this is a new unit compared to the last; the previous center was mostly focused on outreach with this center dabbling in education wanting to do more for the students.

“What we’re adding is the skills to help them run their own business,” Grünhagen said.

The center is interested in showing any student on campus regardless of their major how to successfully run their own business by providing them with the skillset needed.

Students who were starting up their own businesses have come to the center for advice, which is also provided to the community, Grünhagen said.

“There is a strong need to have something like this at Eastern and this part of the state,” he said.

Grünhagen said the center is still a work in progress, but its biggest challenge is making sure the students will be at its core focus. He said whenever a new request or decision is made he makes sure it benefits the students in some way.

“It’s part of our mission,” he said.


Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].