ECU encourages entrepreneurship, local business growth with new Idea Lab | WNCT

September 15, 2016 · Jessica Jewel

New businesses continuing sprouting up across the East and now, professors at ECU are taking steps to encourage even more local growth.

It’s part of an innovative project that just launched at ECU called the Idea Lab.

The lab is a place where students and faculty can come with an idea for a business and work to make it a reality. They’ll pitch their idea to business instructors and work to determine if it’s just an idea or if it’s a business opportunity. If it’s viable, instructors will help aspiring entrepreneurs with next steps.

College of Business Dean Stan Eakins says this could be a game changer for the economy in eastern North Carolina.

“In the East, we’re going to have to grow our own. We don’t have that many companies looking to relocate to Ahoskie, but we have a lot of people from Ahoskie that would like to stay there and have a great job and grow a great business. So if we can bring our students in, help them create these businesses, then we can grow an economy out here that will foster and continue to develop,” Eakins said.

The Idea Lab is open any student or faculty member in any department on campus.

David Mayo is one of the instructors leading the lab.

“Probably the first steps would be to make sure it’s a good idea before they pursue it. Then we’ll see where it goes. If it is a good idea, we’ll have them write a business plan. We’ll put them in touch with lenders. We’ll put them in touch with other counseling resources to take them to the next step,” Mayo said.

This is just part of ECU’s plan to develop the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, which started last year.

The lab opened only Tuesday and already, Mayo says several students have stopped by with innovative plans they’re now working to develop.

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