Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation intends to raise $250,000 to support Spokane Community College’s Integrated Business and Entrepreneurship program and students there who hope to start businesses.
The commitment comes as part of a partnership with Avista Corp. to create a regional Business Entrepreneurship Network in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The money will be invested in programs for students at SCC, North Idaho College, the Clarkston branch of Walla Walla Community College and Rogue Community College in Medford, Ore.
Avista is committing up to $1 million over the next five years for the project, which includes a micro-enterprise loan fund. Avista has pledged up to $500,000 for the fund; individual loans to students would be up to $15,000.
The $250,000 to be raised by the foundation will go for scholarships, program support, and for adding additional money to the loan program for SCC students who complete the entrepreneurship program at that school.
Avista helped launch the initial entrepreneurship program at SCC in 2007 by providing seed funding.
Steve Trabun, coordinator of Avista’s Business Entrepreneurship Network, said the SCC results were so impressive “that we asked SCC if we could license their curriculum as part of a strategy to replicate the model with other community colleges across our service territory.”
The three other community colleges will receive $100,000 over three years to create and teach the business curriculum. Trabun said the program will also be delivered by the recently launched Spokane Valley Tech school.
The overall goal, according to Avista, is to encourage regional economic growth.
“One of the best strategies for pulling out of the longest, deepest recession of our time is to enable broad-based innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Roger Woodworth, vice president and chief strategy officer for Avista.