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ODU Program Offers Assistance to Firms Transitioning to Private Sector

GOV2COM, a new OId Dominion University program designed to help government and military contractors better understand how to do business in the private sector, will be introduced to the Hampton Roads community at a Nov. 9 campus event.

Launched through Old Dominion's Center for Enterprise Innovation, GOV2COM offers its clients access to six interconnected projects, each designed to instill expertise in different aspects of the sometimes difficult re-orientation of business focus to non-governmental markets.

"The Hampton Roads economy is under serious threat if we do not aggressively seek ways to diversify our industrial and employment base beyond our current reliance on government spending," said Old Dominion President John R. Broderick. "Old Dominion University is uniquely positioned to offer the full range of training expertise, mentoring and facilitating collaborations with the business community that are needed to execute a program of this scale."

The Nov. 9 GOV2COM kickoff event will be hosted from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Big Blue Room of Old Dominion's Ted Constant Convocation Center. The evening will include an expert panel, featuring Paul DiNardo, of Wall, Einhorn & Chernitzer; Paul Hirschbiel, of 757 Angels; Paul Robinson, of AeroTech Research, Inc.; and Paul Olsen, Old Dominion's director of federal, commonwealth and municipal programs with responsibility for the University's sea level rise program.

The event, which is free and open to the public will also include a presentation by director Elizabeth Dietzmann about GOV2COM's services and networking opportunities.

To RSVP, see http://odu.imodules.com/gtc15 or contact Karen Miller at 757-683-3825.

GOV2COM was created through a new $5.4 million grant received by the Commonwealth from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA).

When the funding was announced earlier this fall, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, in a statement, that it will be used to assist communities, businesses and employees in defense-heavy areas respond to the impacts of Department of Defense spending reductions.

"In order to build a new Virginia economy, we must create an environment where businesses can thrive even in the face of federal cuts. With these funds, Virginia will provide direct support to companies as they transition to alternative markets," McAuliffe stated.

The need to better understand how to do business in non-governmental markets is a key aspect of sustainable growth in this region.

"GOV2COM is poised to help government contractors utilize their existing skill sets in order to pursue commercial business opportunities," said director Elizabeth Dietzmann. "The program will also connect them with companies in the commercial sector and foster collaboration in business development."

GOV2COM's six interconnected projects are designed to instill expertise in different aspects of private enterprise, including market and customer culture; business processes; business infrastructure; commercial business skills; market knowledge; and networks of relationships.

Together, the projects are designed to support Hampton Roads companies and their employees as they transition into more far-reaching, but unfamiliar, commercial markets.

The projects include events to create a "community of practice" with business owners forming long-term partnerships with local and regional experts and mentors; a transition-specific training and skills enhancement project; and an annual competition for local "spin-outs" to provide knowledge to entrepreneurs, and an opportunity to showcase their potential high-growth projects.

Marty Kaszubowski, director of the Center for Enterprise Innovation, said GOV2COM staff members are already organizing events, mentoring clients, facilitating training, providing a range of services and building a community of like-minded companies "from Williamsburg to Pungo to Franklin."

"There's an emerging consensus at the local, state and federal levels that our region needs to aggressively move beyond that old economic development model as uncertainty around government spending grows," Kaszubowski said.

The funding to create GOV2COM runs through 2015-16, but is renewable on a year-to-year basis as the program seeks to become self-sustaining.

Old Dominion University's Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI) is an organization that houses several programs under its Business Gateway that are designed to leverage the unique strengths of the University to help Hampton Roads-based entrepreneurs establish and grow innovative new ventures.

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