WWU program creates entrepreneurs and helps current businesses

Blog by Hannah Asmussen, Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce intern and WWU student studying Public Relations with an Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor.

At Western Washington University there is a group of passionate entrepreneurship students, ready to help and grow within the Bellingham business community. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor at Western is filled with students who want to learn from leaders within the community. This is a chance for business leaders within the Bellingham community to connect with budding entrepreneurs.

In this minor students go through six quarters of building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs, learning how to pitch and start a venture. Along the way students will partner up with local businesses to create business models, consult and offer assistance to businesses struggling with a certain aspect, whether that be something like marketing or revenue. There is planning, leadership and collaboration that goes into every project an entrepreneurship student is a part of. The skills these students gain turn them into a well-rounded business person.

Anyone is welcome to join this minor, not only business centered majors. The inclusivity of this minor creates a diverse mindset around the community. This produces unique ventures that include people of multiple skill sets, everyone is good at something different. If one student doesn’t know how to build a website or design, there’s a good chance they can recruit someone in the minor to help them.

As the minor progresses there are more leadership responsibilities that students can pick up such as mentoring newer program members and essentially taking on a teaching role. There are coaches that give feedback and give advice along the way, creating a supporting environment.

The heads of this minor are Meg Weber and Art Sherwood, both have a passion for entrepreneurship and helping people find their purpose. Art is the director of this minor and Meg is the head instructor/coach.

Meg has been working with the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce on the Whatcom Radio Report radio program for about three years, being one of the main rotating hosts. Meg appreciates the work the Chamber does for the business community and has known President Guy Occhiogrosso as a colleague for several years.

She believes there is opportunity to increase awareness of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor. Meg wants there to be a positive impact on businesses, created by students within the program. She wants the business community to utilize entrepreneurship students in positive ways like internships, collaboration and potential hiring opportunities.

Meg’s favorite part of the program is the opportunity she has to be with the same students for two years straight, while helping them find their purpose and passion.

“I love watching students build and develop relationships,” Meg said. In this program there aren’t just six random classes.

Recently Meg has focused on extending what they are doing in the minor into the business community. In the future, Meg plans on doing extended education classes on facilitative leadership. Essentially, this class will be a blend between students and the professional community. This would be an opportunity for professionals to gain continuing education credits.

This minor pushes students to be creative, be resourceful and develop skills that will make them into future business leaders. The coaches and community surrounding the students are supportive and love making new connections. This program and the students are open to collaboration with leaders in the Bellingham business community.

If you are interested in working with a student team, please contact Meg Weber at greenfm2@wwu.edu.


Note to readers:  There are a number of higher ed programs in our community that allow teams of college students to gain practical business experience while working on projects for local businesses.  We will be posting several blogs about these programs and encourage local businesses to consider taking advantage of these programs and giving the student teams relevant businesses experience and practical applications for their education.  It’s a win-win!