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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Grden Appointed to Governor's Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

Nancy Grden, executive director of Old Dominion's Strome Entrepreneurial Center, was recently appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to the inaugural Governor's Council on Youth Entrepreneurship.

The council was founded in August, and will be responsible for coordinating and implementing youth entrepreneurship initiatives and fostering the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for young people in Virginia.

Grden's appointment, as one of 24 founding members of the Governor's Council on Youth Entrepreneurship, was recognition of her long career as a mentor for student entrepreneurs.

"I am honored by the appointment to this new council and to represent ODU," said Grden. "I look forward to sharing our ODU direction and ideas with Governor McAuliffe and Council members, and believe we can further the Governor's mission to become the leading state for youth innovation and entrepreneurship."

Grden, a strong supporter of Old Dominion University and its efforts to create a campus-wide entrepreneurial culture, previously served as chair of the Executive Advisory Council for Old Dominion's Strome College of Business, and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the ODU Educational Foundation.

McAuliffe said in a statement that fostering innovation and entrepreneurship is a key part of his strategy for building a new Virginia economy. "The members of this council will work together to strengthen our entrepreneurial infrastructure to ensure that Virginia is the best state in the nation for young people to start a business," the Governor said.

The council, which will be co-chaired by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, includes student innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and educators from every region in the Commonwealth.

Working with higher education and other public and private sector resources, the council will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current local, state and federal programs and services available to young entrepreneurs.

The Council will work closely with institutions of higher education and other state agencies to grow vibrant regional ecosystems across Virginia, while supporting opportunities to advance research, innovation and commercialization at Virginia's colleges and universities.

"We welcome the advice of this outstanding group on the vital question of how we build and sustain a world class entrepreneurial ecosystem," Jones stated. "Business creation is one of our key strategies for economic and job growth in every part of the Commonwealth."

Key initiative priorities for the council include:

  • Expanding students' intellectual property (IP) rights;
  • Promoting the formation of collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs and students to meet;
  • Encouraging schools to offer courses in entrepreneurship that are easily accessible to all students and to integrate innovation into curriculum;
  • Identify ways for colleges and universities to award academic credit to students for starting a business; and
  • Removing unnecessary costs for students starting a business in Virginia.

McAuliffe's priorities align closely with the principles by which the Strome Entrepreneurial Center was founded at Old Dominion University.

Created in 2014, thanks in part to a gift of $11-million from the Strome Family Foundation of Old Dominion alumnus Mark Strome and his wife Tammy, the center is designed to help student entrepreneurs at every stage of the entrepreneurial lifecycle, and in turn help grow the economy.

In the Strome Center's first year of operation, more than 90 student-owned companies have sought counsel from Grden and other entrepreneur-mentors.

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