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11/21/03

Westminster Professor Appointed to Help Create Minority Technology Leaders

 

Salt Lake City-November 21, 2003-How many minorities lead technology start-up companies? Only a small fraction, when compared to the number led by the mainstream population. Westminster Professor of Management Dr. Kelvin Willoughby plans to change that, as he was selected to help create a nationwide program called Emerging Minority Business Leaders (EMBL).

The initiative, which formally begins in June 2004, aims to prepare students for entrepreneurial and technology management careers. Funding comes from powerful federal groups, including the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the National Technology Transfer Center.

"EMBL will be about helping minorities succeed in the domain of technology leadership," Willoughby said. "It will offer students a variety of services, including educational programs, student chapters at colleges and universities, business development resources, and internships leading into careers."

Even though there are a lot of impressive minority-owned businesses in the country, Willoughby asserted that the vast majority of those enterprises are in low-value-added services, such as construction, supply delivery, and cleaning service arrangements. "From my belief," he explained, "we could be facing a kind of economic division between mainstream and minority populations. The high-value-added, energetic, technology-intensive businesses are being dominated by mainstream populations, and entrepreneurship from the minorities is in low-value-added service activities. It could be reinforcing the very problems the MBDA was created to solve," he added.

Willoughby claims that as time goes on, the gap between rich and poor gets widened by entrepreneurship, not reduced. "I'm talking with people in MBDA about doing something more substantial and radical to help minority people succeed in technology-related businesses---entrepreneurship in particular. EMBL is the first project to make this happen."

This invitation to help create the EMBL came about from other work Willoughby had done for the federal government. More than a year ago, he negotiated a contract between the Federal Laboratory System and Westminster to develop education and training opportunities in technology transfer. "That project gave us exposure in the federal labs system that we normally couldn't have hoped for," he said. "Now our name circulates around that system. They're surprised that this small college in Salt Lake City is doing something interesting in the technology commercialization arena."

Westminster College is the only private, comprehensive liberal arts college in Utah and one of the very few in the Intermountain West. The college is small, nondenominational and focused intensively on student learning. It prepares its students for success through a strong foundation of liberal education combined with cutting edge professional programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Westminster in the top tier of regional colleges and universities in the West, and as an excellent educational value. For more information visit www.westminstercollege.edu.