CSU’s new center to empower campus and community

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Coppin State University’s Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship’s primary mission is to advance the social and economic impact of entrepreneurial activities in the West Baltimore community through research, education, publication and service. (Courtesy of Coppin State University)

By Nicole D. Batey
Special to the AFRO

Coppin State University’s (CSU) College of Business has announced the launch of the Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship (CSE) that is designed to positively impact business and the entrepreneurial startup ecosystem in West Baltimore.

The CSE is a state-of-the-art innovation and information hub for entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners. Operating virtually in 2021 to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the CSE will occupy the highly-anticipated, newly-renovated entry level of the former Percy Julian Science Building on Coppin’s campus, located at the corner of W. North Avenue and N. Warwick Avenue. The building is scheduled to open in 2022.

West Baltimore has seen more than its fair share of challenges, from the 1968 riots, which a number of businesses never recovered from and left huge portions of North Avenue boarded up to this day, desolation and gun violence brought on by the drug epidemic and the epicenter of the Freddie Gray uprising. 

However, there is also revitalization and renewed interest in development taking place in West Baltimore. This is good news for Coppin State University. “The Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship is well positioned to spur innovation across our campus and community,” said Dr. Sadie R. Gregory, interim dean of the College of Business. “The college is looking forward to leading the conversation on entrepreneurship and will provide business support for founders, early-stage ideas and small businesses that are looking for capital and advisement.”

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What sets the CSE apart from other entrepreneurship centers in the Baltimore area is its mission. While incorporating more inclusion and diversity in a global entrepreneurial ecosystem, the center’s primary mission is to advance the social and economic impact of entrepreneurial activities in the West Baltimore community through research, education, publication and service. 

Coppin has long been known, historically, as the city’s teacher’s college, and more recently as a prominent institution to study nursing. The CSE Founding Director Dr. Ronald C. Williams characterized the center as a “new model for university-based innovation hubs that are community embedded and community focused. Coppin has a 121-year legacy of [being a] conduit for opportunity. We’ll build on that.”

The CSE wants to help launch people of color into sectors of leadership and entrepreneurship that are currently in high demand. Also, the center will provide resources and support to promote entrepreneurial thinking and training for young people in grades K-12.

The Center for Strategic Entrepreneurship is planning to host their big event, the Economic Inclusion Conference at Coppin (EICAC) on April 15 and April 16.

“We recognize the uniqueness of this moment in history and what we must do to take full advantage of it, because the doors that are open now won’t always remain open. Equity, diversity and inclusion are on the forefront of everybody’s mind right now. We must be strategic in how we handle the moment, and I think that is what Coppin is positioned to do with this center,” Dr. Williams said.