By Lizz Vensas
Collegiate Staff Writer
Despite a drop in overall enrollment at GRCC, the business department has seen an influx of students interested in taking courses and turning their ideas into small business ventures. Fall 2011 has seen an increase of 2.3 percent in the departments of accounting, office administration, and business according to the Fall 2011 Enrollment Report prepared by the GRCC Institutionsl Reasearch and Planning office.
Felix Pereiro, associate professor of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing and management and EGO adviser, said he is excited to see students taking an interest in the department.
Pereiro credits the success of the business department to its teachers. “You have teachers who are teaching you the right skill set and who are excited about business,” he said. “I pass our accounting classrooms and see our students and teachers are equally enthusiastic about the learning process. That’s a beautiful thing.”
Pereiro encourages his students be passionate about their ideas and join the business sector.
“There has never been a better time to start a business,” Pereiro said. “Technology and the internet have helped to cut costs for small business owners.” He elaborated by explaining that Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites not only help with self promoting, but also with communicating to employees as well as the global market.
“It used to be that you would go to school, get a job, work for 10 to 20 years, and then think about starting your own business,” explained Pereiro. “Now with the economic downturn people are forced to be more creative. College students are in school to make jobs not take jobs.”
Emily Rozema is a business student currently enrolled at GRCC. “Business is an industry that’s never going to die,” she said. She went on to explain that the information she’s learned here has all ready helped her in the real world. “A binder I made in Business Innovation helped me get me a management job at the Courtyard Marriot.”
“We have many success stories,” reported Pereiro. “GRCC students coming out of our programs seem to do very well. We have students who have started businesses and some who have gotten great job offers because of what they have learned here.”
Justin Williams, who is a former student of Pereiro, started his business five and a half years ago. In that time his business, Affordable Limousine and Party Bus, has grown to be one of the largest luxury vehicle rentals on this side of the state.
“When I was 21, I bought my first limo,” Williams said. “My plan was to just make money by driving people back and forth to the bar, I didn‘t think about any of the legal aspects of business or expanding.”
Justin ended up at GRCC because he wanted to stay in Grand Rapids for his business. “I had some experience, but I didn’t have all the knowledge to make my business work.” he said.
“At GRCC they took my idea and made it a reality,” Justin said. “They gave me the tools, like marketing and business law, to expand what I had into a very successful business.”
Current students enrolled in business programs at GRCC are also venturing into the business sector with the skills they are learning at GRCC.
Business administration major Ryan Montcastle, 19 of Rockford, recently started his own business called DAB Autowerks and credits GRCC with saying, “I’ve always dreamed of having a job that I could look forward to going to work everyday and doing what I love. Working on European cars is my passion. My business classes at GRCC certainly have helped me in terms of starting and running a business. The teachers here are very supportive.”
Professor Pereiro stressed that the students going into business at GRCC are very diverse. Some of them have business experience and have done well, while others have failed. “We (the teachers) have students that come in with an idea, and we help cultivate that idea into a business,” he said. There are also students that have no knowledge or experience in the industry. “We (the teachers), help find out what that student is interested in and let them be creative with their ideas.”
One of the more recent course additions to the business department is BA 276. This course offers an education in business innovation. “Innovation is the key to business,” Pereiro said. “Whether you are starting your own business or joining a company the ability to be innovative will determine your success.”
For more information on the business department, visit grcc.edu/business. Both DAB Autowerks and Affordable Limousine and Party Bus can be found on Facebook.