Gifts In Action
Donation Helps Grow Small Businesses, One at a Time
By Maria Seniw, '07
At a time when many are pessimistic about the economy, the most recent American Express Small Business Monitor survey shows 37 percent of small-business owners believe the current environment holds opportunities for growth. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed even expect to hire workers in the coming months.
Supporting and encouraging such grassroots economic recovery and growth is critical. The Mason Enterprise Center (MEC), which was created in 2001 within the School of Public Policy, offers programs and services that help small businesses excel. The MEC currently has 38 locations across the state as well as four telework centers in Northern Virginia.
With recent financial support from an anonymous donor, the center plans to expand its efforts to promote small-business growth and entrepreneurial ventures in the greater Washington region.
“Economic development stems from the creation of new jobs, not the movement of existing jobs,” notes Keith Segerson, MEC managing director.
The six-figure contribution represents the MEC’s first opportunity to pursue new and creative opportunities with significantly more freedom, including some of the many innovative proposals and projects the center regularly receives.
Segerson explains that, while the center is able to seize opportunities with greater ease than a large organization, “waiting for funding can really slow projects down.” Eighty percent of the center’s funding comes from external sources and grants, while the remaining 20 percent is provided by the university for overhead costs. This donation is the first undesignated funding the center has received.
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