Ryan Arnold is building a partnership between the community and entrepreneurs in the Coeur d’ Alene area through North Idaho College’s Entrepreneurship Program.
“We asked ourselves, what can we do to be a better partner and what can we do to provide students with better training, opportunities and access in order to start a business?” said Arnold.
Arnold is the Entrepreneurship Community Development Director at NIC. His vision is for NIC to be a place where the community and students come together to build new things. He brings a large amount of experience gained from working as the Director of Startup Spokane. Some of the work he did at Startup Spokane reached into North Idaho and he had conversations with NIC about how they could be involved in entrepreneurship in Coeur d’Alene and what NIC’s role should be in fostering entrepreneurship.
Over the summer Arnold and NIC identified and defined how to go about achieving that goal. They partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to understand where the gaps in entrepreneurship in Coeur d’Alene are and how they can fill those in.
One program that has been successful for NIC has been the Entrepreneurship Certificate program which is taught by Dana Mohr. It is a 15-credit course that serves as the first rung of learning about launching a company. There are four entrepreneurship-specific courses and one general business class. The entrepreneurship platform is also available in the business management associate degree program. There are around 30 students a semester who take advantage of this certificate course. Around half are seeking a degree in business management, while the other half are taking the course for the certificate itself.
The program aims to give students the resources, skills and connections they need to be successful. The certificate program also has numerous scholarship opportunities.
“Entrepreneurship is a skill set, you’re going to need skills that can be taught to be successful, but you also need partnerships and the ability to leverage relationships to launch a business,” said Arnold.
Arnold is also looking to align other programs NIC offers with the entrepreneurship program.
“We have a great culinary arts program, but a lot of those students may have a vision of running their own business. They may want to open their own restaurant or have their own food truck, the entrepreneurship program is able to give them the skills to be able to do that,” said Arnold.
Arnold said the goal of the Entrepreneurship program is to create a new energy around creativity and give students 21st-century skills. Jobs are becoming different than they once were, he said, and the traditional thinking of working for a company for 30 years and retiring with a pension isn’t something that can be expected anymore. Students need to be aware of entrepreneurship options, he said. but also different work situations like being an independent contractor, a 1099 employee.
“Entrepreneurship at its root is about creativity,” said Arnold. “We hope to help both students and people in the community unleash their creativity.”