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Strategic communications students conduct research for Graham startup incubator

Lecturer Hal Vincent’s “Strategic Research Methods” course took classroom theory and applied it in a real-world setting to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and economic sustainability in Alamance County. 

Jason Cox, founder of Co|Operative, a nonprofit business startup incubator and co-working space in Graham, talks with students in Hal Vincent’s “Strategic Research Methods” course. Photos courtesy of Vincent

​Twenty-five students in Hal Vincent’s “Strategic Research Methods” course applied their classroom learning in the field to benefit Co|Operative, a nonprofit business startup incubator and co-working space located in Graham’s historic Mont-White Theater and Opera House. The extensive secondary and primary research conducted by the Elon University students focused on promoting Co|Operative’s business and social mission to empower entrepreneurs to start their ventures while bringing businesses and jobs to Alamance County.

The opportunity to help shape brand identity and develop communications efforts for an organization dedicated to building communities while serving entrepreneurs and innovators was especially rewarding, explained Vincent, a lecturer in the School of Communications and a Coleman Foundation Faculty Entrepreneurship Fellow.

“Many small towns and big cities in North Carolina, and really, around the world, are seeing the value of this type of effort to innovate and build strong economies of all sizes,” Vincent said.

The lecturer noted that the proliferation of academic entrepreneurship programs, the explosion of business incubators and accelerators, and even the popularity of TV shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Profit,” not to mention the growing participation in Elon’s own Triple Impact Challenge, have opened the idea of innovation and entrepreneurship to many individuals who might not have considered the dream a possibility.

Students in the strategic communications class conducted secondary and primary research to promote Co|Operative’s business and social mission.
​“Elon’s hallmark student learning approach of experiential education — merging classroom learning with practice through service learning and civic engagement — is valuable for 21 century global citizens,” Vincent said. “Their preparation for leadership is apparent when they take classroom theory and apply it in a real-world setting, especially when they make a difference in the community that will be felt for years to come.”

Jason Cox, Co|Operative founder, applauded the Elon student aptitude and engagement noting, “the market research from this class was invaluable. These students provided thorough, informative presentations with actionable findings that will help Co|Operative move forward with real-world application that can positively impact our community. I have no doubt that the help provided will let us establish and grow a local entrepreneurial hub faster and with greater focus and success.”

About the Coleman Foundation Faculty Entrepreneurship Fellows
The Coleman Fellows Program was established to catalyze cross-campus entrepreneurship and to encourage non-business professors to incorporate elements of entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial thinking into their courses. It is administered by grant funding awarded to the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business’ The Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

About the Triple Impact Challenge
The Triple Impact Challenge is a competition where Elon student teams present solutions to a particular problem in the world or present their ideas for starting a business venture. Problems can range from clean water in Third World countries to recycling in residence halls to a lack of distribution for local artists. Students research their chosen issue and present their solution or business opportunity to a panel of judges. During the culminating event, teams showcase solutions during a five-minute presentation with university leaders, alumni and students.

Tommy Kopetskie,
6/6/2016 2:45 PM