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W&M cuts ribbon on new entrepreneurship hub

  • Three people use large scissors to cut a giant, green ribbon
    Entrepreneurship Hub:  Paul Freiling '83, President Katherine A. Rowe and Graham Henshaw cut the ribbon on William & Mary's new entrepreneurship center.  Photo by Skip Rowland '83
  • People enjoy beverages inside the entrepreneurship hub
    Entrepreneurship Hub:  People explore the new space following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Photo by Skip Rowland '83
  • A person writes on a wall where other people have written
    Entrepreneurship Hub:  Henry Broaddus, vice president for strategic initiatives, writes his well wishes on one of the walls of the hub.  Photo by Skip Rowland '83
  • Graham Henshaw and Katherine Rowe pose for a photo together
    Entrepreneurship Hub:  Graham Henshaw (left) and President Katherine A. Rowe pose for a photo together in the new space.  Photo by Skip Rowland '83
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William & Mary students are collaborating with faculty and business leaders to not just develop start-ups, but to develop themselves into entrepreneurial thinkers at the university’s new entrepreneurship hub.

On Wednesday night, leaders from the university and surrounding localities gathered for a ribbon-cutting at the hub, which is supported by the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. The hub, which opened at Tribe Square in October, offers programming, networking, co-working space and other resources to students across all disciplines at W&M.Attendees of the event explore the interior of the hub. (Photo by Skip Rowland '83)

William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe, Williamsburg Mayor Paul Freiling ’83 and Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Miller Center, each offered remarks at the event and together wielded a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon on the space.

Rowe recalled hearing a pitch for the hub from Henshaw with the vision that “William & Mary would be known as an institution that graduates entrepreneurial thinkers,” she said.

“The vision was for a place to cultivate disciplined creativity across the university and with our regional partners, recognizing that collaboration, creative thinking and calculated risk-taking are essential capacities for driving positive change,” said Rowe.

That vision became a reality thanks to faculty and administrators at the business school and around campus, the W&M Real Estate Foundation, local community leaders, generous alumni and The Launchpad, a regional business accelerator that is now strategically co-located in Tribe Square to facilitate collaboration with the hub.

Freiling said that the hub will be a driver of the downtown vibrancy that Williamsburg leaders have been looking to increase for years.

“We've been talking about the importance of the creative class, and that's who's going to be within these walls — the students, entrepreneurs from outside the campus community who are coming in to do their work,” he said. “And those two will share, they'll inspire each other, they will innovate all under the guidance of the brilliant faculty here.”

That, in turn, will help Williamsburg both attract and retain talent, Freiling added.

“The potential here is tremendous,” he said. “And I can assure you, we will realize it if we all continue to work together.”

{{youtube:medium:left|6874-W4tIkc, Graham Henshaw discusses entrepreneurial thinking}}

Henshaw called the opening of the hub “a tipping point in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“We equip students here to think and act like entrepreneurs so they can go on to find and develop those breakthrough solutions in whatever field they find themselves,” he said.

Using the analogy of a wheel, Henshaw said that the entrepreneurial thinking that students will learn at the hub “makes for a bigger and faster wheel in all kinds of things.”

“It's an accelerant. It amplifies the impact that our students can make using the skills they're learning in their primary majors,” he said. “It doesn't replace biology or physics or art history, but can maybe help them go faster and farther and potentially to new places they may not have otherwise gone.

“This is the place on campus where students, faculty and staff and now regional entrepreneurs can make bigger and faster wheels.”

After the ribbon-cutting, attendees had the chance to explore the new space and write their well wishes on one of the walls covered in dry-erase paint. Some of the sentiments included: “Nothing is impossible,” “William & Mary & Williamsburg = Amazing,” “Entrepreneurship is For the Bold,” and “I can smell the brain power!” Rowe shared a photo of the wall on her Instagram account Thursday.

Attendees of the event wrote well wishes on one of the walls. The photo was posted to President Katherine A. Rowe's Instagram account Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth DeBusk-Maslanka)Greg Garnhart ’20, operations fellow, handed out markers to campus and local leaders and talked to them about the hub, including the point system that encourages members to engage in events and other opportunities.

Garnhart, who is majoring in marketing and computer science, has been actively involved at the Miller Center and is excited to see more students from across the campus take advantage of the same kind of offerings through the new hub.

“I love seeing everyone in the business school, but it's fun to get to interact with people who are from different parts of campus,” Garnhart said. “And I think more people are coming in general, which is always cool.”