Milgard School of Business provides a new focus on Entrepreneurship
May 18, 2023
Friday, May 12th Milgard Hall 110 and MLG 203 were filled with South Sound Entrepreneurs and Innovators.
Last fall, the Milgard School of Business launched the Entrepreneurship Initiativeunder the leadership of Professor Jill Purdy. The initiative empowers students to launch and grow successful businesses, providing them with the mindset, knowledge, and skills they need to create a new enterprise.
To understand the needs of students and the community, Professor Purdy conducted over 60 interviews in the autumn and winter. She also met with entrepreneurship program directors at leading business schools such as the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. This research revealed the importance of supporting all kinds of new ventures, from small businesses that serve community needs, create jobs, and build generational wealth, to high growth businesses that are transformational and produce huge economic impact.
Entrepreneurship is a key driver of innovation and economic growth, and we are committed to providing the resources and support necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed.
Dr. Purdy began educational programming in spring quarter, starting with an event focused on how to finance a business using loans and credit tools. The panel discussion featured speakers from Commencement Bank, BECU, and Business Impact Northwest who shared their expertise and insights with attendees. They highlighted the importance of a strong business plan, the importance of establishing a good credit score, and the benefits of building relationships with lenders. The event was a great success, with over 50 participants learning about different types of loans and credit tools available to entrepreneurs.
Spring quarter also saw the first-ever Innovation Expo at UW Tacoma with support from the Global Innovation and Design Lab. The expo was an opportunity for students to showcase their innovative ideas in a “science fair” setting. Students and community members showed their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit by sharing ideas linked to business, technology, community, and the arts. Multiple prizes were awarded by judges and public voting to innovations that solved problems or met market needs.
In addition to offering these learning opportunities, UW Tacoma hosted a community conference around entrepreneurship, convening a network of incubators, accelerators, funders, investors, industry groups, and economic development agencies for a conference in May. Nearly 100 entrepreneurs and community leaders attended to share their ideas and experiences. The event, created in partnership with the Economic Development Board of Tacoma/Pierce County and the William Factory Incubator, was an opportunity for attendees to network, learn from one another, and brainstorm ways to enhance the ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Participants generated numerous ideas for improving access to resources, mentoring, and funding and strengthening support for entrepreneurs. Data collected at the conference will contribute to The BEE Project research currently being conducted by scholars Christina Theodoraki and Winifred Soribe on the South Sound entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In the fall, the Entrepreneurship Initiative will launch Entrepreneurs Academy, an eight-month co-curricular program that enables students to advance from an idea to a viable business plan that positions them for enterprise launch. Designed by faculty members and community entrepreneurs, the program will include assessments, educational workshops, group coaching sessions, business mentoring, networking events, pitch events, and business plan competitions.
Dr. Purdy believes this program will be a game-changer for UW Tacoma students, providing them with the support and guidance they need to turn their ideas into reality.
Entrepreneurship is a key driver of innovation and economic growth, and the Milgard School is committed to providing the resources and support necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. The new Entrepreneurship Initiative has made a strong start in bringing together students, faculty, and community partners to build a more vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Innovative systems in UW Tacoma's new Milgard Hall include custom-designed modular pods containing electrical, low-voltage, plumbing and mechanical systems such as lighting, fire detectors and sprinklers.
Former student Arabelis Wally has received a prestigious fellowship at Johns Hopkins University that will support her graduate work. The Thomas Scholarship is awarded to "exceptional students from ... minority-serving institutions to pursue PhDs in STEM fields ... ."