Up & Coming is Made Here Featuring Entrepreneurship Resources
15 Nov 2021
More Is Made Here, Area Companies
November is National Entrepreneurship Month, a month to celebrate and encourage entrepreneurs. Conroe and the Conroe Economic Development Council place great value on entrepreneurs and understand that these supporters of free enterprise are key to building a strong economy. As we honor entrepreneurs, we also want to offer a detailed look at the partners and resources playing a key role in helping to promote entrepreneurship. With the help of these collaborators and the prevailing entrepreneurial spirit in Conroe, Up & Coming is Made Here!
Junior Achievement (JA), an organization founded more than 100 years ago, plays a vital role in preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs. The organization aims to build leaders of tomorrow through core pillars such as entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy.
Active in Conroe Independent School District for more than two decades, JA understands the importance of business leadership, free enterprise, and entrepreneurship in Conroe and Montgomery County. The JA Company Program, a unique offering of the JA Entrepreneurship Pathway, empowers high school students to fill a need or solve a problem in their community and teaches them practical skills required to conceptualize, capitalize, and manage their own business venture.
“This is a pioneering global program centered on entrepreneurship and innovation. The goal is to create the next generation of groundbreaking American entrepreneurs,” said Tania Daniel, Senior Director of Entrepreneurship Initiatives for JA of Southeast Texas. “I believe the only way the U.S. economy will have longevity is if we have an economy that is robust in the long term. The way we can do that is by creating entrepreneurs who can go into society, examine problems that exist, and find solutions to them.”
The Company Program, and other JA programs, are possible through volunteer efforts, many of which come from the business community. Business’s involvement with JA students is vital in the teaching of entrepreneurial principles. Companies and business leaders from across Montgomery County and the Greater Houston region serve as mentors and subject matter experts to provide real-world guidance to students.
"It is important that we get businesses into the classrooms to discuss opportunities that are out there in terms of businesses and jobs. Students don’t always know what’s available in their community,” said Becky Neely, JA District Director for Conroe, Magnolia, Montgomery, Tomball, and Willis ISDs. “The more involved our companies are, the more it brings our communities together.”
“I do not believe that an entrepreneurship program like Company Program can be done as a lecture. The only way it will succeed is by breaking down the wall between classroom and outside world,” added Daniel. “The more students are exposed to business leaders, the more their world and entrepreneurial view will expand.”
For businesses participating in JA, the reward received is as impactful as the one given. These companies have a hands-on role in helping to mold future business leaders and entrepreneurs. Additionally, employees have the ability to hone leadership skills and grow their own entrepreneurial skills through practical training.
“Companies that go into the classrooms are investing in the future of the students and their business. What better way to invest in entrepreneurship and business than to invest in the students that are one day going to replace us,” offered Neely.
While Junior Achievement is serving as resource for the next generation of entrepreneurs, several local resources are ready to assist current entrepreneurs. Whether working to get a business off the ground or trying to expand operations, business leaders and entrepreneurs are constantly looking for guidance. The Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Small Business Development Center (SBDC), with offices nearby in The Woodlands and Huntsville, is prepared to assist Conroe entrepreneurs in every stage of their journey.
Led by its Director, Rhonda Ellisor, the SHSU SBDC has a mission to deliver expert business advice and training to help existing and future business owners start, grow, and succeed. The center provides professional, confidential, no-cost, small business assistance and advising to help entrepreneurs investigate, start, and grow their business ideas into reality.
“Entrepreneurs are important to the community because they can act as the wheels of the economic growth. By creating new products and services, they stimulate new employment, which results in the acceleration of economic development,” said Ellisor. “Entrepreneurs develop and adopt innovations that lead to improvements in the quality of life of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders in the community. A recent study shows that for every dollar spent at a small business, 68% funnels back into the community.”
Committed to helping small business owners optimize their business strategy for long-term success, the SHSU SBDC develops key skills with entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business. A few of these include developing a business plan, being prepared when asking for a loan, understanding and analyzing financials, and improving online strategy. Clients can meet with advisors to discuss business planning, goals, financing, management, marketing, training, and more to support the custom needs of their business.
“The Sam Houston State University Small Business Development Center is America’s SBDC. We are proud to be serving the Montgomery County area. We are here to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams while contributing to the local economy,” added Ellisor.
Conroe values its community business partners, especially ones like Junior Achievement and the Sam Houston State University Small Business Development Center that serve local business leaders and entrepreneurs. These partnerships are truly what help make Conroe a city where Up & Coming is Made Here.