After a two year hiatus caused by COVID, the U. S. Association for Small Business and Entrepren-eurship (USASBE) hosted an in-person conference January 18-21st at Florida State University’s Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship Florida. Not only was Tallahassee a pleasant surprise as a beautiful city filled with Spanish water oaks, but the content of the conference was truly first rate.
USASBE is an exclusive community which advances entrepreneurship education through four-year university and graduate programs using research, special interest groups, and conferences. Entrepreneurship has become an important component of collegiate education and is now being taught at more than 3000 universities around the world. Over the past 40 years, USASBE has been a critical player in the adoption of entrepreneurship in collegiate programs.
Among keynote speakers were Peter Boulware, a former FSU and NFL football player and now a car dealer entrepreneur, Kate Goodall, co-founder and CEO of Halcyon House, an incubator for early-stage ventures for social solutions, Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown from USC’s Marshall School of Business where they created the Sales Mindset course, and Kim Rivers CEO of Trulieve, a seed-to-sale cannabis company based in Florida. Each told a compelling story of need fulfillment and customer driven growth based on quality, integrity and financial success.
One of the strengths of USASBE is member contributions, and faculty from Texas State, Florida Gulf Coast, the University of Tampa, NC State, California State, the University of Leeds, Wharton School of Business (PA), University of No. Carolina, Belmont University, Babson University, Indiana University, San Diego State University, Florida State and Wayne State Universities, John Carroll University, Universities of Wisconsin and Delaware, Iona University, University of Alabama and more all participated. Independent incubators such as Biz Starts Milwaukee, Ignite Accelerator from PA, Teaching Entrepreneurship.org (online), and the Miller School from Eastern Carolina University added their unique approaches to certificate, pitch, poverty and social entrepreneurship.
One first-time activity were book signings affording authors an opportunity to present recently published works in one-on-one, relaxed setting. Alex DeNoble presented his new intrapreneurship book filling the need for corporate entrepreneurs titled The Entrepreneur Within, Dianne Welsh her Entrepreneurial Family Business, Danie Cohen The Ideate Method, J. Howard Kucher Social Entrepreneurship, Clint Day his Ignite the Entrepreneur and Susan Muntean Entrepreneurial Ecosystems to name a few.
Each conference is a chance to induct new fellows and to bring all Longenecker members together. Longenecker Fellow is the highest recognition USASBE gives to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development and benefit of small and medium sized businesses. This year past USASBE President and Babson SEE grad Doan Winkel of John Carroll University was recognized and made fellow.
The conference always presents significant research to the public in the field of entrepreneurship education, and this year saw a prolific group of papers such as utilizing NASA technology to promote cross-campus collaboration, women in entrepreneurship, CEO perceptions of compensation and innovation in SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises), learning from social media failure, enhancing diversity, understanding veterans and expats types entrepreneurship, theorizing effectuation principles, competing in a platform-dominated world, envisioning entrepreneurship programs of the future, rural entrepreneurial internships, small business strategies to expedite recovery from COVID and emergent patterns as small businesses and consumers anticipate a recession.
Florida State University and the Jim Moran Institute were special institutions to host the conference. The FSU business school, founded in 1950 had a tradition of educating future Florida entrepreneurs when a very successful auto dealer Jim Moran* moved from Chicago to Florida for health at age 46. Having been a huge success in the car business and now based in the Deerfield FL, Dr. Kiichiro Toyoda approached Jim with the proposition to represent Toyota for all Southeastern U. S. imports through the Port of Jacksonville. He was the perfect representative and build Southeastern Toyota Distributors to the largest independent distributor of Toyotas in the world. A visionary FSU business dean, Mel Smith heard of Jim Moran’s generosity and took it upon himself to visit Deerfield on behalf of the business school. The story is a classic tale. Jim enjoyed Mel’s personality and was learning a lot about entrepreneurship, and so asked Smith to spend the night so they might continue the conversation in the morning.
It was Mel Smith’s wedding anniversary, and he told Jim Moran he had to get back to Tallahassee for the anniversary celebration. Jim then made an offer. If Smith stayed the night, Moran would gift $1 million to the FSU business school. Mel cancelled his return trip, and began a lifelong friendship the next day. As time passed, the Morans gifted more to FSU, and at his death, his widow gave $100 million to establish the Jim Moran Institute and College of Entrepreneurship. The institute mentors Florida businesses for growth while the college is the only independent college dedicated to entrepreneurship in the U. S. and recently was ranked no. 1 in Florida, 11th among public universities for entrepreneurship.
Florida State by itself is rated no. 1 among Florida public universities and no. 5 in the country by U. S. News & World Report for best value, has a 95% retention rate, is no. 1 in Florida for 4-year graduation rate, offers 276 academic and professional degrees including law and medicine, and enjoys a 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its undergraduate enrollment is 33,593 students.
The conference was concluded by a gala event of dinner and dancing in the new FSU Student Union Saturday evening. Thanks to the USASBE team of CEO Julies Shields and Mari Couri Program Director; the Jim Moran Institute Managing Director Melissa Roberts; the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship Dean Susan Fiorito; Dr. Randy Blass former JMI director, senior lecturer FSU College of Business and Sr. Fellow IVMF Syracuse; the Turnbull Conference Center, Jennifer Wright Director. We all experienced the very best of entrepreneurship academic education through their efforts to make the 2023 conference one of the best ever.