Bluefield-Based Shott Foundation Supports Entrepreneurial Studies Program at Concord College
Athens, W.Va. - Concord College presented a dream to the Bluefield-based Hugh Ike Shott Jr. Foundation, and their seed money will spur the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in southern West Virginia.
In June of this year, Concord President Jerry L. Beasley and Vice President for Development J. Douglas Machesney outlined the rudiments of the Entrepreneurial Studies program to the Shott Foundation that will, with lots of hard work, promote entrepreneurship in Four Seasons Country.
College officials are using the “Bonner Scholars” program to model this program after. The Bonner program has an endowment to support a paid director and issues “stipends” to students in exchange for completing community and civic volunteer projects. The program is “a community within a community,” with targeted recruitment and focuses on specific skill and knowledge development. Students in the Bonner program come from all majors and are evaluated on their community service efforts.
Southern West Virginia has been hit hard with a loss of major employers and the flight of its citizens to neighboring states in an effort to find gainful employment.
Concord’s Entrepreneurial Studies program will build on the success of the Bonner model and 10 years of experience. The program will: prepare graduates to start and operate businesses and/or be better prepared to be employees; incorporate classroom instruction, mentoring and internships; connect students with successful business people; support the state’s economic development plan which emphasizes entrepreneurship; serve students in all areas of study; provide scholarships for 40 students and make a significant contribution to the economic development of southern West Virginia.
The Concord College Foundation, Inc., recipient of the Shott gift, hosted a luncheon to thank the Shott Foundation board members for the gift of $1 million to be given to the College over five years.
“I am particularly interested in this program,” stated Concord College Foundation President Bruce Sparks, “because I believe that Concord developed the entrepreneurial spirit in me. It is difficult to attract capital, and the Shott Foundation is on the right track. Mr. Wilkinson, you have shown great faith in Concord and your gift will serve as a catalyst for change.”
Concord President Jerry Beasley and Concord Foundation Chairman Bruce Sparks presented greetings from West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, who said, “On behalf of the citizens of West Virginia, I thank you for your donation of $1,000,000 to the Entrepreneurial Studies program at Concord College. This money will give much-needed help towards economic development in southern West Virginia. Your generosity and dedication to helping others have been an inspiration to all of us. With your help West Virginia will become a better and brighter place for future generations to live.”
“The grant is going to promote sleepless nights for us,” stated Concord President Jerry Beasley, “because it challenges us to do things we are unaccustomed to doing. We want to find ways to build a bridge that will bring talent and education together. What we have to do is ask new things of ourselves. One component of this vision is that those who know how to build a business will mentor those who do not know. This is a responsibility that makes us uneasy. This gift from the Shott Foundation really is a vote of confidence in the College and we want to do something that will matter to us all.”
“The goal of the Shott Foundation is to improve the social and economic quality of life in the coverage area of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph,” stated R. W. “Buz” Wilkinson, chairman of the Shott Foundation.
“The industry that maintains our economy is no longer here. Our young people have to leave here to make a living.
“I know that Hugh Ike Shott Jr. would be very proud with what we have done with his resources.”
Photo: Concord President Jerry Beasley, Shott Foundation Chairman R.W. Wilkinson, Concord Foundation Chairman Bruce Sparks