Bluefield-Based Tierney Foundation Supports Entrepreneurial Program at Concord

For Immediate Release: 
Aug 07 2003

Bluefield-Based Tierney Foundation Supports Entrepreneurial Program at Concord

Athens, W. Va. - The Katharine B. Tierney Charitable Foundation announced yesterday that they will support the Entrepreneurial Studies Program for students at Concord College with a grant of $82,000.

The Entrepreneurial Studies Program is designed to address problem solving, critical thinking and written and oral communication, as they bear on the entrepreneurial venture. The Program will be managed by the Concord College division of business, which has developed a rigorous course of studies for students in the program. The students will attend summer workshops, develop business plans, conduct "primary" research, and participate in an internship. All the student's activities will be directed and guided by a "business mentor."


The Program was developed following an in-house investigation of the need for such programming in southern West Virginia.

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.

Over 75 percent of the Concord College student body lives within a 60-mile radius of Athens, so the study committee concluded that a special academic emphasis on entrepreneurship would affect a significant number of residents in this area. The economy of this region generally does not enjoy the benefits of growth experienced by the rest of the nation. Unemployment exceeds the national and state averages; the poverty rate and free school lunch utilization both exceed state and national averages; over half of the counties studied had lost population in the last 10 years; median household income for the study area is at or below the state average; and the growth in the region over the past decade was below the state average of 12.1 percent, which was, in itself, well below the national job growth average.


Ten students per year will be selected for admission to the Program, until a general enrollment goal of 40 students has been reached. The students will compete for start-up capital for their business idea.

Students who are selected for this program will participate in intensive, extracurricular business activities intended to complement their capacity for independent thought, creativity, risk taking, perseverance, and good old-fashioned hard work.

College officials are using the "Bonner Scholars" program to model this program. The Bonner program has 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.

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.


Funding from the Tierney Foundation will provide a salary for a director of the Program, guest entrepreneurs, and 10 business mentor stipends.

"Girls didn't go to business school years ago," stated Ann Tierney Smith, chairperson for the Tierney Foundation. "So I love the practical aspect of this program and its benefits to our young people. My father's philosophy was to 'be a big fish in a little pond,' and there are needs and opportunities to make money right here in this area. I think this 'experiment' will succeed!"

"As members of the Foundation, we are pleased to continue the charitable giving of Mrs. Katharine B. Tierney and her family. Mrs. Tierney and her husband, Laurence E. Tierney, Jr., and their family have a long history of supporting higher education in both of the Virginias. We would like to say 'thank you' to Concord College for giving the Foundation the opportunity to participate in such an innovative program," stated Michael J. Earle, senior vice president for First Community Bank.

In 2002, the Hugh Ike Shott Jr. Foundation, also based in Bluefield, endorsed this program by providing an endowment of $1 million. The endowment will support scholarships for students.

"Having the support of two foundations based in southern West Virginia demonstrates the power of partnership between private enterprise and a small, public college," stated Associate Vice President for Development Loretta Young. "The true essence of a quality institution is demonstrated by the support of those who are closest to the institution. We value the endorsements of the Tierney Foundation and the Shott Foundation."

"Dreams will come true," stated Concord President Jerry Beasley, "The Tierney Foundation's dream of contributing to a vision, partnership with a local organization, and spurring economic development meshes well with the College's dream of providing support to bright, hard-working students. It truly is a partnership of resources, dreams, vision, determination, opportunity ... and now, for the hard work!"

For information on the Entrepreneurial Studies Program call 1-888-384-5249 or 1-304-384-5248 or e-mail


PHOTO: Tierney Foundation Chairperson Ann Tierney Smith (second from left) presents a check for $82,000 to Concord College President Jerry Beasley (third from left). Also pictured are First Community Bank Vice President Jeffrey L. Farmer (far left) and First Community Bank Senior Vice President Michael J. Earle (far right).