Archive for the ‘Coleman Fellow’ Category

Call for writings on business info lit

I promised Genifer Snipes to help promote the call for proposals for this book that many of us will be eager to read:

Call for chapter proposals for the ACRL book Teaching Business Information Literacy, edited by Genifer Snipes, Ash E. Faulkner, Lauren Reiter, and Marlinda Karo.

This will be the first-ever title focused specifically on business information literacy instruction…readers will find a collection of practical, classroom-tested business information lesson plans, learning guides, research activities, and projects for one-shot, embedded, and credit-bearing library classes in disciplinary and interdisciplinary settings.

Contact Genifer at gsnipes@uoregon.edu with questions, to discuss proposal ideas, or for the proposal submission form. Deadline is July 30, 2020.

Catching up

Tuesday was my last long day of the semester. I had a brief student consultation at 9am but then free the rest of the morning and took some time off as comp time. Later read about Summer Krstevska taking her future “Creating Social Change” class to Rotterdam, got jealous, and told her so. (Elizabeth Price wrote about her experience with students in Antwerp last year.)

Our library faculty met at noon for a final discussion of our rewritten evaluation guidelines plus other topics. The rewrite addresses several previously unanswered questions: What are the quality and quantity expectations in scholarship and service to get tenured? What does it take to become a Full Professor? Votes on the rewrite are due by Thursday. I should post an update on that long process; the discussions and decisions have been interesting.

Then lunch.

My entrepreneurship research class met for the last time at 2pm, followed by the final Export Odyssey class session. In both classes, we discussed the final project, so pretty informal.

From 5pm to 9pm, UNCG Entrepreneur in Residence Noah Reynolds and I observed 8 final presentations, 30 minutes each, by the teams in the entrepreneurship capstone course.

Whew. Too much WebEx and Zoom for one day. But now the rest of my week is mostly open.

Meanwhile, Chad Boeninger wrote an interesting piece this month about making the most of online consultations.

Today’s topic

Competition flier

Competition flier

I spoke about this competition at SOUCABL in March and promised to conclude the story in a blog post at the end of the semester. Here is that full story.

In spring 2019, my new library dean, Dean Martin Halbert, joined me in attending the luncheon of our cross-campus entrepreneurship program. He was excited to learn about my embedded work within the program as a Coleman Fellow and offered to provide some funds for a student entrepreneurship competition. He funded such an event at his previous library in Texas.

I began to think about the scope of this library-funded competition. There are a few entrepreneurship competitions on campus and in the city already, but we no longer had one that focused on social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is big at UNCG. Many academic programs and many students are interested in helping solve problems in our city and the world. So a few weeks later, I proposed this focus to Dean Halbert and he liked it.

I told Professor Dianne Welsh, our entrepreneurship program, about the competition and she replied “Great, thank you! We can make that part of ‘Entrepreneurship Everywhere’.” I replied “umm, ok, sure!” That was a day-long program in the ballroom of our student union scheduled for Feb. 13, 2020. I was helping organize that program.

Next steps — decisions to make:

  • Solo or team submissions
  • Graduate students judged separately from undergraduates
  • How the pot of award money would be shared
  • What kind of document and financials get submitted
  • Amount of primary and secondary research required
  • Evaluation rubric used
  • Who will judge
  • Strategies for promoting submissions
  • What would happen in the hour-long slot allocated for this at “Entrepreneurship Everywhere”


Other libraries have sponsored or hosted competitions, right? I asked BUSLIB-L and learned of some interesting examples:

  • Philadelphia Free Library: Pitch Corner (media coverage). Quote: “The Free Library’s Business Resource and Innovation Center wants to teach Philly entrepreneurs a thing or two about pitching…” Gillian Robbins runs this. She is co-chairing the Concurrents Team for the Entrepreneurship & Libraries 2020 conference.
  • Brooklyn Public Library: PowerUP! (Timothy Tully told me about this competition he helped run. Tim now works at the San Diego State University and I enjoyed getting to know him over beers at SOUCABL.)
  • New York Public Library: New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition


From the libguide for the competition:

Social entrepreneurship means creating sustainable organizations that address a problem for local or global communities in an innovative way. The organizations can be for-profit or not-for-profit, and could be social, educational, environmental, artistic, etc. in nature.

(The libguide still exists but is now “unpublished”.)

What gets submitted?

Steve speaking at SOUCABL

Speaking at SOUCABL. (No, I don’t golf. Bill and I were performing for a skit in Chicago.)

I asked the SOUCABL librarians a short discussion question, “If you were creating a social entrepreneurship competition, what document would you require?” Choices could include business plans, feasibility analyses, business models, the business model canvas, lean startup frameworks, short financial projections, super-detailed spreadsheet templates, etc.

Between USASBE, GCEC, and SBI conferences, I’ve heard all of these things praised and all of them condemned.

While our already mentioned capstone course ENT 300 (also required for Arts Administration majors) requires a long feasibility analysis report (followed by a business plan in the follow-up class), most of the cross-campus and cross-listed entrepreneurship classes at UNCG require a 3-4 page business model. Not too long but usually detailed enough to require critical thinking and some secondary research. Professor Welsh created a business model that most of the classes use. I modified it just a bit to make it more clear about market versus industry research. The outline:

  1. Business Overview
  2. Industry & Market
  3. Financial Analysis
  4. Funding & Next Steps
  5. References
  6. Financials

Professor Welsh recommended the SCORE financial template, which is the super-detailed one I referred to above. It’s intimidating to finance newbies so I was interested in something shorter. Our Entrepreneur in Residence created his own financial template for his version of the ENT 300 class. With his permission, I copied four small tables from his template for the social entrepreneurship competition. See the Appendix below for both the full business model and those tables.

Judging rubric?

Competition libguide

Competition libguide (no longer public). The other tabs came from my master guide.

I enjoyed creating this section from scratch. Please note the emphasis on problem identification (1-2) and research (6-9):

  1. Clearly defining the problem or issue
  2. Clearly defining and measuring the target population and geography
  3. Proposing a solution that is innovative but also well-defined, realistic, and sustainable
  4. Writing in a professional style (no grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, or run-on sentences)
  5. Using the business model outline and covering all the listed topics in 3-4 pages
  6. Effective use of relevant, high-quality, secondary research sources (ex. for local industry size data, target market segmentation size data, and financial benchmarking)
  7. Incorporating a data visualization (ex. a data map, graph, or chart)
  8. Effective use of primary research (for example, a personal interview)
  9. Proper use of APA or MLA citations (within your text as well as the works cited list)


Morgan Ritchie-Baum and Christina Adams, entrepreneurship librarians at the public libraries of Greensboro and High Point (and BLINC friends), agreed to serve. Professor Welch recruited Pete Peters, a retired, serial life-sciences entrepreneur who also founded some non-profits and taught as an adjunct. Plan B for judges would have been reaching out to some of the NGO leaders in Greensboro whom I’ve met through experiential learning classes.


Emails to the faculty who teach social entrepreneurship classes, mostly.

Money and February 13 event?

Another quote from the libguide:

The UNCG University Libraries is offering $400 each to the best undergraduate and graduate student social entrepreneurship business models. Second-place submissions will earn $100 each. Participants must be current students. The business models can be past class projects or can be written for this competition.

So I did decide to spread the money around a bit. If we had two graduate competitors and two undergraduate competitors summarizing their business models in the final round during “Entrepreneurship Everywhere” on February 13, then all four students would win some money.

So what happened?

No submissions!

Afterwards I talked to a few students in the target classes. They said their business models were due at the end of the semester and so were barely started by mid-February. (Most UNCG students work to support themselves and so don’t have time to do big projects outside of class work.)

At SOUCABL in early March, I discussed my revised plan:

  • New deadline: April 30 (reading day)
  • Re-promote the competition to the social entrepreneurship classes, circulate paper fliers, and ask for the professor to also share the flier via Canvas.
  • Hold the final event in the library’s attractive Special Collections reading room, not the cavernous student union ballroom.

Then I drove back to North Carolina on Saturday, returned to work on Monday, and then the campus shut down.

Final chapter

I didn’t want to convert the final event to a Zoom session. (Writing this here at the end of semester, Zoom fatigue is now quite apparent.) So I wrote the judges and Professor Welsh:

I’m very sorry, but I’ve decided to cancel the competition for this school year. The final presentations and award ceremony were supposed to be a celebration of the winners and the idea of social entrepreneurship, plus serve as a promotional opportunity for the library and the UNCG cross-campus entrepreneurship program. I don’t think we could accomplish those goals in an online environment. Plus, students (and many of the faculty too) are getting really tired this semester from doing school in the new normal and I don’t think there would be much energy left in early May for even an online event.


I’m not going to decide right away about pursuing this idea in 2020-21. Will the campus be open this fall? Given the budget cuts coming, could I get $1,000 from library administration? Will I have more time to devote to promotion than in 2019-20?

Having a cross-campus event on social entrepreneurship in the library would certainly help promote this topic as well as the library as a promoter of and partner in solving problems in our community. I already have strong connections to the cross-campus entrepreneurship program. Would my time and energy be better served by trying to better connect with programs I don’t have strong connections with?

So to be determined. But at least the library tried something new.


Business model for the Social Entrepreneurship Competition

Business model © Dr. Dianne Welsh, 2019 (which some small additions)
Financial form © Noah Reynolds, 2019.

A. Business Overview

  1. Describe your idea and business model: Who does what with whom and how? Who pays for it?
  2. Financial value proposition: Why is this great idea from a monetary standpoint-for the people investing in the service or product? For the target market?
  3. Value proposition: What is your niche? Who are you selling to and why are they buying your product of service?
  4. Vision: What is the ultimate objective of your plan?

B. The Industry & Market

  1. Customer Identification: who is the target population, consumers, non-profits, or businesses? (B2C or B2B)
  2. Market size, analysis and forecast: What is the need?
  3. Industry analysis and forecast: Who else is delivering this service already? What is the outlook on this type of activity?
  4. Your competitive advantage: What makes your business or nonprofit the best qualified/positioned to deliver the good or service you are proposing?

C. Financial Analysis

  1. Funding sources: Where will the money actually come from for the activity? What funding already exists or is committed?
  2. Discuss assumptions and capital requirements.

D. Funding/next steps

  1. How much funding does your plan require to get off the ground?
  2. How much time does your plan require to get off the ground?

E. References

F. Financials: fill out the four boxes below

Financials set 1


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I hope everyone is having a good summer. We have one more full week of summer at UNCG and then the fall semester begins. There will be some interesting changes in my embedded relationships this year, and we will be reviewing our liaison team structure and proposing updates. I’ll write about these things this fall – back to the roots of this blog, really. This post is basically a status update, so there probably aren’t any words of wisdom or “avoid my mistake” take-aways this time.

Nova Scotia seal

Nova Scotia seal (on a wall in Victoria, BC)

One of the changes involves our Coleman Fellows for Entrepreneurship Education program. I last wrote about this program last August after the annual summit in Chicagoland. The Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) were new, and we began to work on a big assessment study. The results of that study haven’t been released yet, but I enjoyed working with the hard-working, UNCG Entrepreneur in Residence Noah Reynolds throughout the year. Noah guest-taught for many classes across campus, and advised our CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization) club and took them to the national CEO conference, among many other activities in support of our entrepreneurship program. He introduced income statements and balance sheets to my ENT/GEO/MKT/LIS 530 students in the spring, which kicked off our module on financial benchmarking.

This year, the Coleman Foundation decided not to host the annual summit, a major change. I enjoyed flying the librarian flag at those events. So I don’t know what is happening at the other Coleman campuses, nor how many remain as the foundation tries out some new strategies for helping create sustainable cross-campus entrepreneurship programs.

The UNCG Coleman grant this year focuses on creating more cross-campus entrepreneurship online classes. I had the opportunity to receive a large 2017-18 travel budget for attending several entrepreneurship education conferences in exchange for converting my research class into an online class. But I enjoy the seminar-style, discussion-oriented nature of the class, and the students have reported in their official feedback that the learning environment is generally works well for them. So I declined the offer.

Instead, I continue to teach the class on campus each spring and continue to serve as the associate director of our Coleman Fellows program, supporting our excellent director, Professor Dianne Welsh. (And I’ll continue to unofficially co-teach ENT 300: Feasibility Analysis each semester, with Professor Welsh in the fall and Noah Reynolds in the spring. At some point, ENT 300 will go online, which will be interesting given the research-intensive, team-oriented, experiential learning nature of the class.)

Given my smaller travel stipend, I will probably only attend one entrepreneurship education conference this year: GCEC 2017. GCEC = Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centres. Around 55 campuses are GCEC members. Professor Welsh told me about this one; GCEC gave UNCG an award for “Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching & Pedagogical Innovation Award” last year in Rochester, NY. (My previous employer, Duke, won second place.) GCEC conference programming focuses on running programs (including cross-campus programming) but also features general entrepreneurship education topics. Dianne said that around 300 folks usually attend. So bigger than SBI but smaller than USASBE.

Fundy Moose

Fundy Moose

This October, GCEC meets in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Carol and I visited Halifax in 2007, the year we finished visiting all the counties in New England. (As soon as we entered the Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, on the way to Nova Scotia, we saw a moose by the side of the road.) Halifax is an old harbor town and hosts Canada’s immigration museum (Pier 21), a fascinating place, their version of Ellis Island. The city is also where survivors of the Titanic were brought ashore, many WWI and WWII naval convoys set sail to England, and many trans-Atlantic planes were diverted the morning of 9-11 (quickly overwhelming the local supply of hotel rooms and rental cars).

Carey Toane from the University of Toronto and I will be presenting at GCEC on getting students to use data to make better decisions and reduce risk. The conference will have a focus on regional economies, and so we will work in a bit on regional and local data in Canada and the United States. Ilana Stonebraker’s recent JBFL article on “Toward Informed Leadership: Teaching Students to Make Better Decisions using Information” (see item #3 from last time) helped inspire us, although our talk also has some overlap with what Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I covered at USASBE last winter.

Horse at Highland Village Museum, Iona, Nova Scotia

Horse at Highland Village Museum, Iona, Nova Scotia

Carey gave a poster at the VentureWell Open Conference in D.C. in March, and co-led the Academic Librarians Supporting Entrepreneurs (ALSE) online symposium in the same month. So I look forward to working with Carey at GCEC. I (or perhaps both of us) will provide a report on the conference after we get back.

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On March 15, seven business librarians from around the United States met online to talk about the for-credit business research classes we teach. We were frank in our sharing, so no names will be mentioned here! But they did give me permission to post a short summary of our main topics.

The classes range from one to three credits. Most are for undergraduates, but a couple include graduate students. The classes focus on entrepreneurship, economic development, competitive intelligence, or data visualization. Some are required; others are elective.

We intentionally didn’t record the WebEx session – it was intended to be an informal sharing session – but I tried to take some notes. Here are the core discussion topics that came up.

Lack of core textbooks

No one uses a comprehensive textbook. We aren’t aware of one. We agreed that the LIS business information textbooks aren’t useful outside of LIS classes. I mentioned I use the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Market Research by Wenzel (Praeger), which is really good for research strategies and how to make decisions based on the research. But it only covers consumer marketing for the most part.

Create an open textbook?

There was interest in working together to create a modular, flexible, free online textbook. That would certainly be a lot of work though. We’ll see.

The need to share the resources we use

Instead of relying on a textbook, we all use a mix of articles, web pages, and reports. We agreed to share examples from our classes as well as our syllabus, assignments, and other course documents via a private libguide. We’ll probably have to remind each other to add more to the guide after the spring semester wraps up.

Are you paid for your class?

A few are. Others do the work as part of their normal, expected librarian duties. I mentioned I get conference travel money through our Coleman Foundation grant. I think most of us would like to get paid extra for teaching, but as one of the librarians noted, adjunct instructors don’t usually get paid a fair wage for their time anyway.

Do you teach on your own time or as part of your normal librarian hours?

Both situations exist for us. Some teach as part of their normal duties, and others teach outside of their normal work hours. One of us hasn’t been sure what the expectations are and does grading at home.

What about the workload?

A big issue, certainly. There is some resentment about the workload demand, which some of our colleagues don’t have to deal with as much. Some of us are also very busy with research consultations and other teaching (such as one-shots). It’s not easy keeping up.

Some of us teach very large, required classes (80 or more students). Some of us (ex. me) teach little boutique classes in comparison.

What terminology for what we teach and who we are?

Some library terminology isn’t meaningful outside the librarianship bubble. “Information literacy” is an example. So we teach “business research”, “competitive intelligence”, “economic development,” etc. The ACRL frameworks seem to focus on first-year composition classes and use language appropriate for that type of teaching.

Likewise, business students, business faculty, and the business and nonprofit community recognize the value of “business research consultants” but have other notions of what “librarians” do or would teach. This is not a new observation, of course.

What we get from teaching these classes?

Increased recognition and respect from professors and others. Greater understanding of what teaching college students entails. Appreciation for having more time with our students and building long-term relationships with them. Teaching at a deeper level and witnessing students’ substantial growth (hopefully) as researchers and critical thinkers.

We hope to stay in touch. If you teach a for-credit business research class and we missed you, we are sorry. Let me know if you are interested in connecting with the group.

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Below is a link to my slides from the lightning round session of the Academic Libraries Supporting Entrepreneurship online symposium (March 2, 2017).

What I’ve Learned from Four Years of Teaching a Three-Credit Entrepreneurship Research Class (PDF)

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Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

Business librarians Mary Scanlon (Wake Forest University), Diane Campbell (Rider University), and I attended and presented at USASBE 2017 last week in Philadelphia. Diane has presented at this conference before, but this was the first visit for Mary and me. I’m going to submit a detailed conference review for Ticker but will provide a short summary and a quick assessment here.

USASBE is the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship:

the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world dedicated to advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. With over 1000 members from universities and colleges, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the public sector, USASBE is a diverse mix of professionals that share a common commitment to fostering entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviors. [introduction to USASBE]

But mostly entrepreneurship faculty. Around 500 attended. I heard there is higher attendance in even-numbered years, when USASBE meets in southern California (San Diego last February, L.A. next year). Preconferences met on Wednesday, with the main conference running Thursday afternoon through Sunday at noon. Yes, the same days as ALA Midwinter in Atlanta.

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

Registration was $675 (early bird – full cost was $750), higher than any library or business educator conference I’ve been too, but includes membership in the association for a year. We met in the Loews Hotel on Market Street, between City Hall and Independence Park. Always convenient to stay in the same building for a conference — until you really need to get outside for some fresh air and walking. There really wasn’t any sun that weekend but it wasn’t very cold.

The three librarians provided a 75-minute “competitive workshop” titled “Teaching students to use authoritative industry and market datasets in order to make informed decisions in their business plans”. We discussed both free sources (Economic Census, American Community Survey, and Consumer Expenditure Survey) and subscription databases while also leading discussions on how to get students to use such data.

I also participated in a workshop by the UNCG Coleman Fellows on “Beyond the basics of cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship: reaching across the curriculum with mentoring, counseling, research support, and assessment.” I spoke about how a business librarian has the freedom to support entrepreneurship classes across campus (not just in the business school) through research workshops and consultations, and also briefly summarized my research class, ENT/GEO/LIS/MKT 530.

And right after the librarians’ workshop, Diane presented with a Rider professor on “Experiential learning with non-profit organizations: how to use the student team consulting model for service learning situations.” Unfortunately Mary and I missed the Rider workshop due to our return flight schedule.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

As with SBI [my recent Ticker conference review on SBI] and World Bank/GWU Entrepreneurship 2016, the faculty at this conference seemed genuinely pleased to have librarians present. The profs often complimented the roles and work or their own business librarians. (Good job, friends!) We librarians enjoyed the networking and the opportunities to provide comments to the faculty and PhD students on research sources and strategies. And some nice socials.

USASBE was very interesting for its variety of types of programs. This made the “call for submissions” document rather complicated. Interesting that educator conferences like USASBE and SBI don’t require “learning outcomes” for conference submissions unlike LOEX and ACRL, a silly submissions requirement in my opinion. On the other hand, competitive workshop submissions require proposals that could be up to 10 pages long. So it was a lot of work to submit for the librarians’ and Coleman Fellows’ workshops.

I made a point to attend most of these program types:

  • Competitive Papers (short solo presentations on research, teaching, or program design)
  • Teaching Cases (presentations of case studies used in the classroom)
  • Developmental Papers (roundtable feedback on research in progress)
  • Competitive Workshops (interactive panel discussions, mostly)
  • Rocket Workshops (short workshops)
  • Experiential Exercises (classroom exercises)
  • Student Pitches (from Philly-area schools, with several rounds of voting throughout the conference)
  • Exhibitor Sessions (mostly from entrepreneurship educational software vendors)

Sage, Emerald, Business Expert Press, and a couple of other publishers had tables. The reps on hand were editors and content recruiters, not sales staff.

Philly moth from a social event

Philly moth from a social event

USASBE provided several socials, including one Thursday night at the Drexel Academy of Natural Sciences, where these butterflies and moths live. Some of the attendees participated in the women’s march on Saturday. I hadn’t been to Philly since ALA Midwinter 2002, back when I served on the BRASS Education committee. That January, Independence Hall was surrounded by several concentric walls of fencing and concrete barriers after the 9/11 attacks. Mary and I visited the hall on Thursday and enjoyed its liberation from all that security. I also visited the National Museum of American Jewish History (new to me) and found it very interesting but also full of sad stories and concerns on anti-Semitism and anti-immigration that still resonate in our political climate.

Philly butterfly from a social event

Philly butterfly from a social event

On our way back to the airport, Mary and I discussed how useful this conference was to us personally. Of course we will get presentation credits for our CVs (and not just speaking to the librarian choir), but we didn’t really learn things that we could apply to our research classes. However, wearing my Coleman Fellow and embedded librarian hats, I did benefit from the discussions of teaching strategies and program design. And I gained more insight into the teaching and research needs of professors. So I really liked USASBE and (assuming our Coleman grant gets renewed) will consider attending at L.A. in 2018. Hmm maybe L.A. librarian Nataly Blas would consider submitting a proposal with me…

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Beginning of the conference

Beginning of the conference

The official name of this conference is the GW October Annual Entrepreneurship Conference, http://gwoctober.com/. It is hosted by the World Bank Group and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) in D.C. The 2016 theme was “Promoting SMEs to drive growth.” I attended using Coleman travel funds. Registration wasn’t expensive, but man, the hotel rates in the Foggy Bottom area!

It really seemed like two different one-day conferences on adjacent days. Day one was last Thursday and consisted of short talks and discussion panels on public policy issues at the World Bank, a few blocks from the White House. There was also a long networking lunch. The speakers were a diverse group of federal government and NGO higher-ups from around the world. 150-200 folks attended, representing 16 countries. About a quarter of attendees where international students from GWU. Almost all the men wore dress coats and tie and the women dress suits. Sitting at my table most of the day were two Swedish academics, three Egyptian academics and NGO officers, and a U.S. SBA representative (born in Nigeria).

Day two was Friday and consisted of papers and workshops by mostly professors in the GWU business school. Attendance was small, maybe 30-40 people. There were three time blocks, each with four concurrent sessions to choose from. The evening ended with an ICSM dinner and awards ceremony (which I didn’t attend). So a very different flavor from day one.

This was my first overnight visit to D.C. since working a 5-week internship at the Smithsonian the summer before beginning college (many years ago!). We stayed at a small GWU dormitory not far from this conference’s two locations. So I enjoyed some nostalgia (also perhaps because I had a birthday the day before the flight up). I wasn’t able to visit the brand-new African American History and Culture museum, due to the high demand for the timed entry tickets, but did make time to visit the newish National Museum of the American Indian.

Here are some notes from some of the more interesting programs I attended, plus notes from networking lunches with U.S. Census officials and a GWU librarian friend.

At the World Bank:

World Bank from Pennsylvania Avenue

World Bank from Pennsylvania Avenue

“The State of SME Policies and Support Programs”

Description: According to estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 15 years to absorb the growing global workforce, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This panel will address the targets set by governments for SME policy development and help identify strategic priorities for improving business environments. The progress of SMEs is key towards narrowing the development gap.

  • Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
  • Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the US Small Business Administration
  • Moderator: Luca Iandoli, President of International Council for Small Business (ICSB)

Contreras-Sweet opened the conference with an overview of the importance of SMEs to the world economy. She was an excellent speaker and also briefly related her life story. She entered the U.S. from Mexico as a five-year old girl in an extended migrant family. Her family (especially her grandmother) pushed her hard to do well in school, and she ended up founding a bank and a philanthropic organization before joining President Obama’s cabinet.

Beginning of the conference

Opening panel

Contreras-Sweet described entrepreneurship as the “most powerful force for people to lift themselves out of poverty.” She has been promoting the creating of SBA-type agencies in other countries, with the support of the Kauffman Foundation. There will be a big international small business promotion conference in South Africa partially supported by the SBA.

Anabel Gonzalez, one of several World Bank officials on the program this day, spoke on how “promoting small businesses is essential to ending poverty & increasing shared prosperity.”

Luca Iandoli (a professor from Naples) moderated a discussion with those two speakers and also took questions from the audience and online listeners. He began by displaying a 2012 MIT Technology Review cover of moon-walker Buzz Armstrong lamenting: “You promised me Mars colonies; instead I got Facebook”. Iandoli noted that the IT revolution has not helped much with job creation and income growth, showing some stats on revenue-per-employee ratios for major IT companies compared to manufacturing companies like Ford Motor. He posed the question “So can SMEs benefit from innovation trends? Or will the income gap increase even more?” It was an interesting discussion that touched on the tax advantages enjoyed by multinational but unavailable for SMEs, the increasing digital divide especially when you compare richer countries to poorer countries, and other topics. The panel steered into ethical aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship (which reminded of Ilana Stonebraker’s recent post), and how the SBA has started to track the involvement of women, minorities, and veterans in SBA loans and other services. Women entrepreneurs proved to be a hot topic for the audience, and my SBA neighbor at our table discussed this over the coffee break.

“SME Policy Design and Evaluation: Insights from Research on Entrepreneurship and Innovation”

Description: Despite significant advances in the measurement and analysis of entrepreneurial activity, cross-country comparisons remain notably difficult. This panel will address the intersection of data and policy, and discuss how research can contribute to the design of national policy interventions as well as enable assessment of progress toward objectives.

  • Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Senior Economic Advisor, Trade & Competitiveness, World Bank Group
  • Winslow Sargeant, ICSB Vice President of Data and Policy [and SBA official]
  • Moderator: Ayman El Tarabishy, Associate Professor at George Washington University and Executive Director of ICSB
Mary Hallward-Driemeier

Mary Hallward-Driemeier

Ah, then we got into some data. Well, just a little. Mary Hallward-Driemeier discussed the data collection the World Bank is trying to collect to assist its efforts to promote SME growth. She listed six thematic areas as priorities for trade and competitiveness (see the picture). These themes may help loaning organizations define and measure the success of its loans to SMEs. She also encouraged support organizations to be “gender informed” and look where women can disproportionately benefit: transportation issues; having broader definitions of collateral; and encouraging specific industrial sectors.

Winslow Sargeant

Winslow Sargeant

Winslow Sargeant was an engineering professor and Kauffmann professor, but now works in the SBA Office of Advocacy. Given his engineering background, he enjoyed discussing U.S. patent history but then used statistics to show the importance of small business to the US economy. He made the important distinction between small companies and nonemployers. I liked that because we discuss those important distinctions – and the different Census datasets involved – in my 530 class. Sargeant noted that most online sales are made by large companies, not SMEs, continuing the concerns that the social media revolution has been overhyped in terms of benefits to SMEs. He expressed concerns that the number of patents issues in the U.S. is falling compared to some other countries (as a percentage I think – my notes aren’t clear, sorry) but that U.S. immigrants continue to have a disproportionate positive impact on entrepreneurship, job creation, and patent submissions

Networking lunch with Census folks

There were a dozen themed tables for lunch discussions. I considered sitting at the social entrepreneurship table but decided to talk shop with the Census folks. Bárbara Zamora-Appel (Program Analyst), Philip Thompson (Special Projects and Outreach Coordinator), and Andrew Hait (Survey Statistician and leader of the Census Business Builder project) were there. I think those three were happy to have a business librarian present, although a couple of NGO types stopped by to ask questions.

Barbara had interesting insights into the tradition of Census racial categories, comparing them to an even more complex array of categories (20 total) used in her native Guatemala. We wondered if the younger U.S. generations are rebelling from the standard U.S. demographic variables involving race and Hispanic/Latino status. (I mentioned recent discussions with students on Census terminology). Barbara noted that the OMB maintains racial/ethnicity and country of origin terminology used by the Census – I didn’t know that.

Philip recently attended a business educators’ conference in Atlanta and wondered if I had advice on how to reach college students and also faculty on the value of Census data for population and industry research. Too many students don’t know where most U.S. demographic and industry data come from, he lamented. We talked about the need for business faculty to set clear expectations for research in their classes, and for librarians to be involved in the research classes. (Mary Scanlon, Diane Campbell, and I hope to lead a workshop on the expectations part at USASBE next semester.)

Andrew discussed his efforts to link related business, industry, and demographic data through the Census Business Builder, allowing users to find useful data they might not have known to exist. Such linkages would vary by industrial sector and might also include relevant trade data trends. Andrew would like to add short, practical case studies of how an entrepreneur or SME owner successfully used the Business Builder. These stories would help demonstrate the value of the tool and show off the diversity of data that could be applied to a business idea. I promised I would get back to him on this, although maybe an email to BUSLIB would be a better strategy to collect examples…

My notes after lunch were more limited, so let’s jump ahead to Friday morning at GWU and wrap up this already long post. The Friday conference didn’t begin until 10:30, a late start IMO.


“College and Community Partnerships: The Development of an Entrepreneurial Program to Support Economic Development”

Kathleen Burke (Professor of Economics) of SUNY Cortland lamented the loss of many small business in upstate and rural New York. Many of the 64 SUNY campuses provide the main economic activity in their small towns, including Cortland. Most of the businesses in this county are within a 4-mile radius of the Cortland downtown. Her campus became the main driving force for economic development through a new cross-campus entrepreneurship curriculum and an Appalachian Regional Commission grant. The students partnered with entrepreneurs and existing small businesses to help develop business plans and marketing plans. The grant also helped fund an innovation business center. Like the Coleman Fellow campuses, SUNY Cortland now has an entrepreneur in residence to work with the faculty to better support the students’ work and learning.

Their ENT 1 course (the first course in the sequence) covers primary and secondary research as well as business models, business plans, and making pitches. Students from all over campus are taking the class. The next class (still in development), ENT 2, will be an independent study with faculty and community mentors – that’s a different approach I think. The goal is for those advanced students to participate in regional competitions. Long Island Bagel is one downtown retail success established by students.

Next steps include classes on social entrepreneurship and social innovation. They are also creating a “Community Innovation Lab” that will support local nonprofits.

The concluding discussion focused on how to increase student participation across campus, how to increasing engagement with the community, and what other types of courses are offered. The Coleman Fellow director from Colorado Mesa University was in attendance too, so there was some discussion of best practices discussed at the annual Coleman summits.

“Geographies of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Non-Farm Proprietorship Employment by U.S. Metropolitan Area”

Keith Debbage

Keith Debbage

My buddy Keith Debbage (Professor of Economic Geography) presented on his new research on geographic aspects of entrepreneurship. (He is also researching innovation quarters.) These are new areas of interest for him, resulting in part from his involvement in the Coleman Fellows program beginning two years ago. My notes on Keith’s talk aren’t too detailed, partially due me taking some pictures of Keith’s talk and posting them to social media for the Coleman program and the UNCG Geography department. So if you ever read this, Keith, please forgive me for the brevity and any misinformation.

Keith’s framing question for the research: “Is self-employment in any geography primarily the entrepreneurship of opportunity or the entrepreneurship of last resort?”

…And already we have to deal with the issue of how to define and measure entrepreneurship. Many of you business librarians have wrestled with this question before in your research workshops and consultations. Keith decided to use BEA data on non-farm proprietorship (NFP), so he defined entrepreneurship as self-employment (also the Coleman Foundation’s definition). He also used American Community Survey and BLS data for his research.

He studied MSA’s, not cities, to take into consideration commuting silos that limit spill-over effects. (Keith pointed to me as an example of the value of using MSA data, since I commute from downtown Winston-Salem to downtown Greensboro for work.)

Jumping ahead to what factors seem very important for self-employment growth:

  • Access to capital, such as bank loans and/or using ones house as collateral (high home values are disproportionate)
  • Median age (rates of self-employment go up with age)
  • Hispanic status (also higher rate of self-employment)

For example, notice in the picture how well Florida is performing.

Conclusions: NFP is an increasing important part of economy. Entrepreneurship of last resort AND of opportunity are important (capital is used more often in the latter case). So public policy needs to do better job of recognizing these two divergent entrepreneurship trends.

Finally talking to another librarian

I skipped the Friday conference lunch to have lunch with my friend Ann Goebel Brown, the Instruction Reference Librarian at GWU. Her library is right across the street from the business school. Ann has been very involved in RUSA and so besides catching up on family and personal life, we had an interesting discussion on the future of “reference services” (she is presenting at ACRL next spring on “Reference: The New Dirty Word?” – great title!) and how RUSA might be changing how it is organized to better reflect the nature of 21st century public services (with possible implications for BRASS).

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Last week 90 Coleman Fellows gathered at a conference hotel near O’Hare Airport for the 2016 Coleman Fellows Summit. This was my fourth year attending [reports for 2013, 2014, 2015] but this summit was different. Usually the majority of attendees are new fellows, recruited to add entrepreneurship elements into an existing, non-business school class (or create a cross-listed class from scratch, as I did).

Big group of fellows discussion of assessment

Big group of fellows discussion of assessment

This year, however, there was a smaller group of new fellows joining a larger group of campus directors and veteran fellows, plus a new group: the first Coleman “Entrepreneurs in Residence” cohort. Their participation reflects a new strategic shift in how the Coleman Foundation is promoting cross-campus entrepreneurship. Rather than a continued focus on funding ongoing and new cross-campus classes, the foundation now expects the campuses to fund those classes themselves. A new focus features the Entrepreneurship in Residence as local entrepreneurs who will be providing teaching, consulting, and general support to many classes each semester. A second new focus is assessing the value and impact of the Coleman Fellows program. These changes are responses to the Coleman Foundation board’s concerns about the sustainability of the fellows program.

The residents program reminds me, frankly, of us business librarians. We are also nontraditional faculty charged with serving the needs of entrepreneurship students and classes across campus, which we do as guest teachers and research consultants. Outreach strategies for the residents are similar to our own outreach strategies I think. However, the residents’ focus will be only on entrepreneurship education. Tech transfer is not included in their charge.

Veteran Fellows prioritizing our needs and opportunities (Joe, Chris)

Veteran Fellows prioritizing our needs and opportunities (Joe, Chris)

The UNCG Entrepreneurship in Residence is my friend Noah Reynolds, an amazing guy who is a CPA, has started a number of businesses, serves on several corporate and foundation boards, and also teaches ENT 300 each spring. Noah and UNCG Geography Professor Keith Debbage hit it off right away by discussing mutual economic development interests in our “Triad” region of North Carolina. Also with Hospitality and Tourism Management Professor Bonnie Canziani.

We spent all of Friday morning working in small groups on assessment, developing rubrics and assessment methodology. Joe Roberts, the national Coleman Fellows coordinator, asked me to facilitate the small group on the so-called “infusion model”, Coleman’s term for adding entrepreneurship to existing non-business classes. A dozen profs and I proposed some pretty significant changes to the set of draft rubrics for our topic, but were energized by the great discussions we had. So our several hours before lunch together talking about assessment (not a topic that normally interests me much) went by fast.

After lunch, veteran fellows Julie Shields (Millikin University), Chris Broberg (Wichita State) and I led two hours of discussion with 35 or so veteran follows. We had the folks form small discussion teams around topics of high interest (we began with a post-in note poll) and then report back in the final 30 minutes. A lot of the ideas were pretty specific to the fellows program, but one professor mentioned working more with librarians at conferences (!). There was also a series of recommendations about fellows connecting by visiting neighboring campuses, and having mentors from the same subject disciplines (like an arts prof mentoring newer art Coleman Fellows at other campuses).

Veteran fellows getting ready for break-out discussions (Julie)Veteran fellows getting ready for break-out discussions (Julie)

So this summit didn’t have a focus on Entrepreneurship 101-type training this time, and therefore I didn’t do an “introduction to entrepreneurship research” type workshop. We did have one short big group discussion Thursday evening about data mapping tools, and I piped up to check with your library to see if you have access to tools like SimplyMap (and later posted a new SimplyMap screencast video to the fellows’ newsfeed).

UNCG Coleman Fellows 2016-17

UNCG Coleman Fellows 2016-17

But I was pretty involved wearing my assistant director’s hat, under the excellent leadership of Professor Dianne Welsh, the UNCG Coleman Fellows director. As the only librarian fellow, I noticed I was more likely to be named as “Steve the Librarian,” as opposed to “Steve from UNCG”.

Finally, there was some unusual service provided. A fellow had a zipper problem in the bathroom during a morning break and asked me if I could loan him a pair of pants. (He had only brought one pair for the 3-day summit.) We had a similar height and shape, so I said sure. I got those dress pants back (freshly washed and pressed, and with the button that came off on Saturday restored) on Monday. That was funny.

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