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Community and State Colleges Spur Business Innovation

NACCE wonFrom left: AIER President Stephen Adams, Alfred Munoz, Giuliano Melluso, Hussain Ali, Bruce McMordie, Landi Spearman, Saul Allen Barrera.

The list of 2015 winners of the C. Lowell Harriss Student Entrepreneur awards reads like entries in the Inc. 1000, or Fortune’s 100 fastest growing companies. They include a digital technology company, two health products firms, a worker relocation business and physical fitness company. All five were honored by AIER and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship in Houston last month.

The C. Lowell Harriss Award demonstrates that important business innovation comes from many places beyond Silicon Valley and the biopharma centers around Boston, San Francisco and San Diego. America’s community and state colleges are increasingly taking on the challenge of helping their students turn entrepreneurial aspirations into real businesses, and it’s paying off.

This year’s first place award went to the owners of MYCO Tea, the first immune stimulant that is created in probiotic form. Founders Alfred Munoz and Guiliano Melluso are students at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida, where courses in molecular biology, aquaculture and business gave them the foundation for creating their mushroom-based product and building a business around it. They leveraged both business classes and school-based incubation services to launch their business.

Community college-based business plan competitions are also becoming an important proving ground for entrepreneurs. The second place winner and two third-place awardees all used the Newspring Business Plan Competition hosted by Houston Community College to hone their business plans and strategies, make contacts and test ideas.  HS@menus.com, Texas Swim Academy, Destination 4 Relocation, LLC and Grass on the Go are all examples of experienced and knowledgeable individuals who turned their desire to help people into viable, growing businesses, with the help of courses at Houston Community College and their experience in the Newspring Business Plan Competition.

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