Entrepreneurial Center Celebrates Success, Unveils Plans

Since it opened in fall 2018, The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University has seen 11 companies grow and graduate out of the business incubator; 45 new, full-time jobs added to the local income tax base; and more than $3.7 million in investments and grants awarded to center members.

The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center, located on the OWU campus, also supports budding businesses by connecting them with Ohio Wesleyan student-interns to assist them with accounting, data analysis, event planning, graphic design, market research, volunteer coordination, website creation, and other needs. While they work, the students gain hands-on, real-world business experience to help them fulfill their own entrepreneurial ambitions.

“The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University exemplifies the forward-thinking and innovation that define the university and Delaware communities,” said OWU President Matt vandenBerg.

“The center is the first-of-its-kind liberal arts business accelerator and the first-of-its-kind city, county, and educational institute partnership,” vandenBerg said. “It has unlimited potential, and I am grateful to the City of Delaware and Delaware County for the partnership that created and continues to strengthen it.”

He added, “In April, we anticipate sharing a significant first step in expanding the work of the Entrepreneurial Center beyond the local campus and community and into the broader region.”

The entrepreneurial center was created with a five-year agreement that included a $50,000 annual investment from both the city and county. That collaboration was officially extended when vandenBerg, Delaware City Manager Tom Homan, and Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell signed a new three-year agreement during a special event at 1 p.m. March 14 at the center, 70 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. 

The city and county again will support the center with annual investments of $50,000 and with a one-time investment of $25,000 each this year for administrative support. Both entities also have representatives on the center’s advisory board and access to office space in the entrepreneurial center to assist businesses as they mature and look to move to independent locations within the local community.

Homan said the entrepreneurial center fits into the city’s efforts to help businesses grow and flourish locally.

“The City of Delaware is fortunate to have a diverse and growing economic base,” Homan said. “Everything is possible here, and the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center is a tremendous resource to help community members turn ideas into action.”

Merrell concurred, adding: “Delaware County continues to grow as central Ohio attracts more and more technology-related and -affiliated businesses. This is a transformational time for the county and the region, and we are pleased that the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center is poised to capture the potential of this moment.”

Also during the March 14 event, vandenBerg introduced the entrepreneurial center’s new director, Phillip Smith, who joined the Ohio Wesleyan staff in January. Smith’s duties include creating and executing a business development strategic plan for the center; forming new partnerships with community leaders, entrepreneurial partners, and local high schools; and overseeing all of the center’s programming, including the creation of new resources available to anyone interested in developing their leadership skills and entrepreneurial ideas.

“I’m excited to be part of this dynamic community,” Smith said. “I look forward to collaborating further with the city and county to help current and future entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses utilizing resources available through the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center.

“Upcoming plans include taking our popular ‘Delaware Does’ events on the road to different communities as well as working to create collaborations with local high schools to encourage young entrepreneurs. We also want to increase our work with minority-owned businesses throughout Delaware County and create more trainings and resources available to everyone upon demand. There are exciting times ahead.”  

Learn more about The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University, its unique city-county-university collaboration, and its opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs at www.owu.edu/delaware-entrepreneurial-center.

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