The University Center is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and will work to promote innovation and strengthen regional economies in New Jersey.
“Today’s meeting was phenomenal. This is going to be a transformational institution in the State of New Jersey, and to have all of the partners here is exciting,” said Barbara George Johnson, Kean vice president of external affairs and urban policy and research, in a statement.
The inaugural meeting assembled partners from the Hispanic and African-American Chambers of Commerce, the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship at Kean, and others to share ideas for future initiatives.
The University Center will make small businesses a key focus by using applied research, technical assistance and academic expertise. “Small businesses reflect the culture and values of our state. When we lose them, we lose ourselves,” Johnson said.
Kean University was recently chosen as one of 25 colleges and universities nationwide selected for a more than $1 million, five-year competitive grant to create the center, which is housed at the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean.
The center will address regional needs, such as agriculture in south Jersey, manufacturing in central Jersey, and small businesses in north Jersey.
“Kean is a higher education partner in this. We want to create pathways for people toward earning academic degrees,” said Joseph Youngblood II, Kean senior vice president for external affairs.
Newark-based consulting firm BCT Partners will use data to create a geospatial tool pinpointing regional needs and solutions for the center. “We can develop more precise recommendations about what to do for the regional economies,” said Lawrence M. Hibbert, BCT Partners president and managing partner. “What Kean has assembled is the organization and partners that allow us to move forward.”
The College of Business and Public Management at Kean will help the center by providing expertise in funding, certification and technical assistance to prospective entrepreneurs and businesses.
CBPM is developing curriculum for a new major in innovative and social entrepreneurship, which would train students who want to work in nonprofit entrepreneurial areas on projects like providing water sources to developing countries or working to alleviate poverty.
CBPM Dean Jin Wang said the plans outlined at the meeting offer great opportunities ahead.
“At Kean, we say ‘Cougars Climb Higher.’ I think with the Watson Institute, my college now has wings – now we can fly higher,” he said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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