West Valley College recently announced two summer courses targeting the creation and growth of small businesses. The courses represent the culmination of efforts by the college to reduce unemployment and grow economic activity by facilitating entrepreneurship.
The first course is an Entrepreneurship Academy, designed to help first time entrepreneurs to start a small business. The Entrepreneurship Academy is a practical results-oriented sequence of courses designed to walk entrepreneurs through the basics of starting a successful small business, with the goal of producing a going concern by the end of the course.
The second course is a Small Business Academy, which is tailored to help existing businesses grow and break through to the next level of success. Featuring lectures by seasoned business executives from across Silicon Valley, the Small Business Academy is designed to arm small business owners with the same models and best practices for success used by some of Silicon Valley most successful companies.
Both courses feature one-on-one mentorships and guest lecturers with seasoned business people and networking opportunities allowing new business owners to build ties with the business community and establish networks critical to the success of any small business.
But the story within the story is how the program came into being. Instigated by a collaboration of West Valley College business division faculty member Heidi Diamond and Chairman of the Governing Board Chad Walsh, the project tapped business leaders from across Silicon Valley to tackle unemployment and spur economic growth.
“The real story here is about business leaders rallying to address the needs of the community and tackle unemployment. As an elected official, I felt I had a duty to do something to help create jobs in here in Silicon Valley,” Walsh said. “Every small business we help create represents several new jobs as well as new opportunities for a whole ecosystem of service providers. I see the program as an employment factory. Students go in, and jobs come out.” Walsh continued.
Walsh, a 20 year veteran of Silicon Valley’s high tech community tapped his own personal network to pull the project together. “As we continue to fine tune the program, we are seeing a growing interest on the part of business leaders to participate and make a contribution to the community. The response has been overwhelming and inspiring.” Walsh explained.
Members of the program’s advisory committee include Edwin Oh, co-founder of the Infrastructure Group, a business services firm specializing in building high tech startup companies and former technology CEO, Wayne Diamond, President and CEO of an international marketing firm and former VP and GM of Vision Systems International, Charles Yun, Vice President of the Business Banking Group at Comerica Bank, C.W. McGowen, former Director of Operations and Plant Manager for Rockwell Collins, Ann Height, assistant Vice President of Union Bank, and Fenn Horton, a partner the business law firm Pahl & McCay located in San Jose.