Keith A. Reynolds
If you’ve walked through the Community Resource Center this semester you may have noticed the absence of Blackstone Launchpad. This is due to the entrepreneurial resource is being rebranded and formally relaunched in an event Jan. 25.
The revitalization of the Blackstone Launchpad as the new NEOLaunch Net entrepreneurship resource for students is meant to remind students and community members that LCCC is a supporter of innovation and the creation of new businesses and ideas.
“The main goal was around the naming,” said Janice Lapina, program director of NEOLaunch Net when asked about the purpose of the relaunch celebration. “We want to continue our partnership with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. We just wanted to let people know that we’re still here on campus and we have a real regional focus. We have such a great partner with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.”
LCCC has had a rich history of supporting entrepreneurial pursuits, and much of that can be attributed to its guidance and leadership of Dr. Roy Church, president. “This is a chance to start from the ground up,” said Church about the renaming of NEOLaunch Net. “You mix together entrepreneurial spirit with creativity and we suspect what you’ll see is great success. LCCC has had over 750 students express interest in NEOLaunch Net and more than 350 of them have formed ventures that they’re beginning to develop. “These are our own students creating new enterprises that are succeeding and producing for them wealth and success in our community, and producing jobs for others,” Church said. “ Hard to get much better than that.”
Dr. Church is not the only one that touts the spectacular reputation of NEOLaunch Net and all that it has done for the students and Lorain County as a whole. Deb Hoover, the president and CEO of the Burton D Morgan Foundation, the main supporters of NEOLaunch Net, has nothing but positive things to say about their investment in the LCCC resource. “Lorain County Community College was the only community college included among the Blackstone Launchpad campuses across the nation, and there is a very good reason for that,” praised Hoover, “The college has operated in the world of higher education at the cutting edge, embracing entrepreneurship across this campus through the creation or early adoption of dynamic programs like GLIDE, Innovation Fund, FabLab, Community Tech Transfer, and now NEOLaunch Net in addition to various highly respected academic programs.”
Despite the change of branding, NEOLaunch Net will continue to be an important on-campus resource for students and community members alike, and that can be seen in the results that it has already procured and the successes that students have had because of it. “I think the biggest thing is the reassurance that there’s somebody to guide you through it,” said Victor Edwards, LCCC alumni and business owner, about the impact that NEOLaunch Net has had on him personally. “I’ll tell you, when you start a business, there’s a lot of things you don’t know. It’s a learning process and it’s helpful to have someone point out some pitfalls you may come across as you go through it.”