Northeast Junior College’s Business-2-College Program Brings Local Businesses into the Classroom, Creates Jobs ($50,000)
The Northeast Regional Council is currently focused on youth and workforce development with a special emphasis on keeping people in the region. As a result of this effort, the Council turned to area colleges looking for business education curriculum to aid in their mission. In response to the request, Northeastern Junior College (NJC) developed the Business-2-College (B2C) program and competition. In the fall of 2011, B2C offered a semester of business courses and seminars customized to the needs of the 10-county region. Approximately 40 applicants submitted proposals to participate in the program. Ultimately, 10 local businesses and entrepreneurs were chosen to participate in the semester-long course, taught by Cyndi Vandenbark, the distance learning coordinator at NJC. At the close of the semester, the students prepared business plans and presented them to a judging panel of area business and community leaders. The funds from the Northeast Regional Council covered the cost of tuition and internet access, as well as award money for the winners of the overall business plan competition. The judges awarded funds to four of the ten businesses. Stacy Poland, owner of Just What Grows Gardens, won first place and a $10,000 grant. The three runners up included a restaurant, a salon, and a media company. Each took home $5,000. In total, the B2C program helped 10 business owners better understand their own operations and develop plans for future success. As a result, the program also helped a number of the businesses expand and open job opportunities for people in the region.
Regional Council Members
Vice Chairman, El Pomar Foundation
Colorado State Senator, District 1
Yuma Branch President, Bank of Colorado
Grant Writer and Consultant