PHOTO: The Education Committee of Williamson County further discusses the Entrepreneur Innovation Program on Monday evening in Franklin. / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The Williamson County education committee further discussed its new Entrepreneur Innovation Program during its regular meeting Monday night, with Superintendent Mike Looney calling the program “unique to the country,” as well as “game changing.”
First voted on and passed during last week’s school board meeting, the education committee approved a resolution Monday for the hiring of an administrator for the program. The hire will add an additional $121,274 to the 2018-2019 school year budget.
The program will allow students who are aspiring entrepreneurs to get hands-on experience in the business world by working with real-world business experts, market researchers and everything in between – all while earning class credits.
“We have a unique opportunity to create something that really hasn’t been created before in public schools,” Looney said. “If this works ladies and gentlemen, this is going to put Williamson County Schools on the map like never before. I think people are going to be envious and want to replicate it.”
Through the new program, students with real-world business ideas would be able to bring their ideas from the conception stage to design, marketing, and finally, out on the actual market. With this new program, that student would eventually be able to put that idea on real-world shelves.
The program is also planned to provide students with state-of-the-art equipment, such as 3D printers that can not only cut plastic, but aluminum and other strong materials. Looney said the business advisory board of Williamson County has recently set a goal to raise $2 million for equipment for the program.
The program will be housed at Franklin High School, in the newly constructed annex building. It is open to all students in Williamson County. Hours of operation are planned to be 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., with the program having the ability to accommodate up to 1,000 students at once.
“Any student that’s interested in being an entrepreneur will have access to programing in that building to learn all the functions of entrepreneurship,” Looney said. “Everything from creating a business plan, to learning quickbooks, to learning how to finance projects, all the way up to opening their own business.”
Looney, a key-player in the program’s creation, said the project had been in the works ever since the Williamson County government acquired the Columbia State Campus back in 2016. Seeing huge support from both business leaders in the community as well as Williamson County school board members, talks continued until its eventual unveiling last week.