National business organization making new home at UW-Whitewater
JANESVILLE UW-Whitewater will welcome a national business organization to campus this spring in a move that campus officials said will strengthen business education and boost regional economic development.
As part of a three-year commitment, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship will move its headquarters to Whitewater from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Whitewater officials said the group is one of the most respected entrepreneurial support organizations in the world.
It will take up residence in Timothy J. Hyland Hall, home of UW-Whitewater's College of Business and Economics.
"Our campus, our community and USASBE share a commitment to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs," said Richard Telfer, UW-W chancellor. "This is a unique opportunity for us to share our talents, expertise and resources to enhance the student experience and grow the regional economy."
The collaboration opens the doors for UW-Whitewater to work with the association's more than 1,000 members from universities and colleges, businesses, nonprofit organizations and the public sector.
Bud Gayhart, the director of the university's Small Business Development Center, said business people initially launched the organization.
"The genesis really was people who said they need to hire more people who understand small business," Gayhart said. "Over time, the organization has kind of done a 180-degree turn from that and has become heavily academic with minimal business participation.
"Our goal is to move that mix back to the middle."
Gayhart said UW-W is well known for its outreach efforts and work within the business community. Its record of alumni involvement on campus is second to none, he said.
Facilities such as Hyland Hall and the Whitewater Innovation Center serve as robust environments for learning and business incubation, and the university's business outreach centers partner with area companies to diversify and strengthen their operations.
"We are all about outreach, and as a reflection of our mantra, we should be the host of USASBE," he said, adding that the collaboration will provide another opportunity for students to become involved with small businesses and entrepreneurial startups.
The association's executive director, Rebecca White, and an administrative assistant will move to Whitewater.
She said the organization would work with UW-W to create the next generation of entrepreneurs through teaching and research.
"As an entrepreneurial, four-year state university with an applied research and teaching focus, UW-W represents our membership well and complements our strategic priorities," she said.
Jeff Vanevenhoven, an assistant professor of management at UW-W, predicted the collaboration would have immediate economic impact and long-term generational impact on the local economy.
"The region has identified entrepreneurship as one of the ways to develop and grow the economy," he said.
"USASBE will benefit from the strong culture that we have built here at UW-Whitewater, particularly with our student body. UW-Whitewater faculty will benefit by learning the most recent developments that we can bring to our own classrooms and make our regional entrepreneurs stronger."