By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The New Business Development Center has trained owners of more than 300 neighborhood businesses in the last four years.
But, just as importantly, the NBDC has trained nearly 200 Grand Canyon University students as well as 21 alumni and 18 high school students to be ambassadors to those businesses. And now it can hire even more ambassadors thanks to a $3,500 subgrant from the Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to teach students how to run a business in a different way amid COVID,” said Eduardo Borquez, Director of the NBDC and Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the Colangelo College of Business (CCOB).
The ambassador positions are not limited to business students, he emphasized. Training is being conducted online during the pandemic.
“If students from any college want to get involved and give back to the community through service, especially in the current environment, becoming an ambassador is a great choice to give back remotely and learn a lot of great soft skills,” he said, noting that students working toward service-related careers, such as nursing, education and business, can benefit the most.
The NBDC provides multiple trainings, in both English and Spanish, for small businesses, teaching entrepreneurship, servant leadership, marketing and financial literacy. It was one of 11 nonprofits awarded subgrants after the BBB recently concluded its first business incubator program.
“Nonprofit organizations that serve underrepresented entrepreneurs and vulnerable communities are in critical need of funding now more than ever, and BBB is proud to provide subgrants to help,” said Kimberly Roland, BBB’s Director of Innovation and Entrepreneur Programs.
Each nonprofit awardee is required to execute an initiative that supports its cause by the end of the year. For the NBDC, which operates out of GCU’s Canyon Ventures Center, that means hiring more students.
“What I really want to do is let the students lead within the NBDC operation and programs,” Borquez said. “Teach them to face challenges like COVID-19 and still continue to support the community in spite of the pandemic.
“In times like these, we just need to focus on doing what we do well and use what we’ve learned throughout the years as we support our community and strengthen our relationship with other organizations in the ecosystem.”
Said CCOB Dean Dr. Randy Gibb, “Eduardo’s leadership of this effort has been amazing. By helping others create and capture value for society through the power of business, NBDC has and will continue to lift up west Phoenix residents. And I have been impressed by how he has integrated students into the process -- the students learn as they serve others. We so appreciate the partnership with the BBB supporting GCU’s work to continue to help the GCU neighborhood.”
The NBDC is reachable via email at [email protected].