By Starr D’Avril
Blackstone LaunchPad was inaugurated at a ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 29 at LCCC’s Bass Library LC114. The LaunchPad program promotes entrepreneurship as a career choice for new and experienced entrepreneurs in LCCC and the community. President of LCCC Dr. Roy Church and Deborah Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation officiated at the ribbon cutting ceremony, before guests including local politicians, business owners, and Student Senate President Kionna McIntosh.
“We are about the business of growing the entrepreneurial spirit in northeast Ohio,” said Church. “This opening promotes the notion making a job is just as viable as taking a job.”
In welcoming remarks, Hoover said, “This campus has evolved to a national representation for other schools due to Church’s vision. Blackstone LaunchPad will compliment all the other entrepreneur endeavors Church has already implemented. The Foundation is honored to be a part.”
Where it came from
The LaunchPad program was first developed at the University of Miami where its success gained notice of the Blackstone Foundation and was implemented at Wayne State University and Walsh College in Detroit, Mich. The Blackstone LaunchPad has now been expanded to four colleges in Northeast Ohio: Baldwin Wallace, Case Western Reserve, Kent State and Lorain County Community College, which is the only community college to receive this program nationally. The Burton D. Morgan Foundation in partnership with The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is the umbrella organization responsible for bringing the 3.2 million grant of the 50 million national Entrepreneurship Initiative to the four northeast Ohio colleges to help train Ohio’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
Program Director Lee S. Kolczun is well qualified to be at the helm of Blackstone Launchpad here at LCCC. A Lorain native, Kolczun has a pedigree of note including a law degree from Case Western Reserve, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio, Assistant City Prosecutor for the city of Lorain, and has a law practice of his own. Kolczun has grown and harvested three of his own entrepreneurial projects. In 2012, the Provost tagged Kolczun for Executive in Residence for Entrepreneurship. “Hopefully this program can help future entrepreneurs to help this region grow economically,” said Kolczun. “What is exciting to me is private money helping the region (Lorain County) and the fact we are the only community college in this program.”
Janice Lapina has been with LCCC for four and a half years, starting as an academic adviser then adjunct instructor. Lapina was working as an Adult Transition Coordinator when she was chosen as Program Manager for Blackstone LaunchPad. Lapina is a hardworking, student-focused individual with a passion for what she does. “I am committed to Lorain County and this college. I want to see people succeed,” said Lapina.
A quick link to Blackstone LaunchPad’s website has been included on the opening page of LCCC website or log onto lorainccc.edu/blackstonelaunchpad for more information. Appointments to speak with staff of Blackstone LaunchPad can be made by calling 440-366-4900
y Starr D’Avril