Hampton University established the Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (VWIEC) in October 2020 through the Department of Education Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant. In the months that followed the VWIEC has been expanding the capability and capacity of Virginia’s current and aspiring entrepreneurs to assist with economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The concept of workforce development can be traced back to the very conception of this world-class institution,” said Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton University President. “Our founder, General Armstrong, said that his institution is built upon two concepts. One is a first-rate academic program. Today, that is called workforce development. Two is the development of character. He said that of the two, the development of character is the more important. I want everybody to know, that as the 12th president of Hampton University, I feel the exact same way.”
Along with a host of other partners, including Old Dominion University, the new center serves as a statewide nexus of support by synthesizing the resources of two- and four-year institutions of higher education, experts in the public and private business sectors, and workforce agencies. VWIEC will fulfill a critical niche in the small business development arena. Although headquartered in Hampton, VA, VWIEC serves clientele from across the state who have been dismissed, displaced, or replaced due to COVID19. VWIEC recruits those who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and want to start a business; those seeking to transition to a new business because COVID-19 has made their current venture inviable; and those seeking to expand or strengthen their existing business.
VWIEC strives to serve a minimum of 3,000 participants and provide all services free of charge. Services include mentorship, education, networking, pitch competitions, and assistance with financing strategies. The program will support the participants by removing barriers that restrict them including childcare, transportation, certification costs, and business licensure fees.
“On behalf of Hampton University in partnership with Old Dominion University, the Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s goal is helping individuals impacted by the pandemic, in starting, transitioning or expanding their businesses,” ” said Dr. Kermit Crawford, VWIEC Executive Director. “The VWIEC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and has resources to help in that effort. If we can be of assistance, please call (757) 997-4066 or email us at VWIEC@hamptonu.edu. The Virginia Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center was founded to provide pathways and resources to Virginia’s aspiring, transitioning and established entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic.”
VWIEC’s motto is “No Closed Doors.” In this regard, the VWIEC offers emerging leaders wraparound assistance from the idea/aspiration phase to business conception and business planning, to the opening of doors to a successful business. VWIEC uses a holistic strength-based approach to entrepreneurial advising and incubation services. We are excited about the work that VWIEC is doing across the Commonwealth of Virginia as it continues to build a multi-level, multi-dimensional, and diversified entrepreneurship growth-oriented and collaborative model of business incubation.
You are welcome to visit our website at https://virginiaworkforce.force.com/ or contact us at VWIEC@hamptonu.edu for additional information.