WCBA Fosters Young Entrepreneurs

The Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University is highly accredited for producing competent and competitive graduates, with the college’s emphasis on preparing students for positions within the world of business — with majors such as finance, marketing and management.

One program gaining popularity emphasizes a different side of the business world — students opening their own business. The entrepreneurship program allows students of all majors to transform their ideas into businesses.

The entrepreneurship program consists of five classes — it was previously offered as a certification.

Donna Walsh, entrepreneurship program director, explained the growth of the program.

“Since the introduction of the program two years ago, enrollment in entrepreneurship courses has increased nearly 60 percent during 2011-2013 and 135 students enrolled in entrepreneurship courses for the 2013-2014 academic year,” she said.

Walsh said that entrepreneurship combines well with a variety of majors, inside and outside of the WBCA.

“Many students are interested in web-based programs. Others are planning for financial firms, accounting, graphic design and market research. A number of students are interested in food/hospitality start-ups. Others are also majoring in creative arts,” she said. “These students are minoring in entrepreneurship because they plan to earn a living as entrepreneurs in their chosen field upon graduation.”

Cecelia Haren, a recent YSU graduate who started her own business, opened an upscale, special-occasion dress store in Boardman called Cece Couture.

Haren said she was able to open her business after persuading Farmers National Bank to grant her a loan. They recognized Cecelia’s business as one of the best plans for a business they have seen.

During the spring semester of 2014, several YSU students traveled to Grove City College in Pennsylvania to compete in the Oh-Penn for Business College Business Plan Competition.

Nine plans were selected out of the many competing students. Richard Wetzel, YSU student, was one of the winners. He won the $2,000 first-place award for his concept ProCover, which uses selective laser sintering and 3-D scanning technology to produce custom prosthetic limb covers for amputees.

Hayley Platt, a senior dance management major and entrepreneurship minor, is creating — along with her partner — the first professional concert dance company in Youngstown. They are planning the company’s first performance, a celebration of the history of Youngstown, to be held at the McDonough Museum on the YSU campus.

Ben Smith, an international business student with an entrepreneurship minor, explained one of his business plans after graduation.

“I would like to start an import/export business with Greek sandals,” he said. “People come up to me and ask me where I got my shoes. I would like to bring them around here.”

Smith also said the entrepreneurship program allows you to be flexible with your career choices, and that the professors will always give you guidance and support with knowledge.

The program provides students with resources from the Ohio Small Business Center and the Youngstown Business Incubator to prepare them for after graduation.

Jackie Baker, another young entrepreneur, just opened her own boutique located in Warren. The name of her business is Jackie’s Jewels, and she sells all American-made clothing, shoes and jewelry.

“I started my business out of need. I was making jewelry from home as a hobby. Between demand and followers on Facebook, I felt it could work. Turning 30 this year made me decide you either sink or swim in your life, so I decided to try,” she said. “It is better to say you tried then never at all.”

Baker also gave some advice for anyone who wants to start their own business.

“You have to make sure you have drive, love, time and want for it. It can take up a lot of your time, but can be very rewarding when people thank you for your service,” she said. “You have to love what you do and want to share it with others.”