FLORENCE – An inaugural class of 14 students began their studies today for the adult entrepreneurship program in Marion. The Waste Management Entrepreneurship Class includes educators, retired county and federal employees along with others who are under or unemployed and in search of a way to peddle their passions.
The four-week course is the centerpiece of an initiative forged by Rep. James A. “Jim” Battle, Jr., Sen. Kent Williams, YesCarolina, Francis Marion University, The City of Marion and Marion County Adult Education to bring job opportunities to Marion County.
“I see the program as providing the necessary skills for residents to become self employed or a better employee,” said Brianna Zhang, who administers the program and is manager of the School of Business’ Small Business Institute (SBI) at FMU. “Today, everyone came with a willingness and openness to learn. They were creative, and I believe will seize the opportunity to bring jobs to Marion County.”
Zhang said it’s the first time, as far as she knows, such a program has been implemented in South Carolina and Marion County will be the pilot program for it.
Funding for the project came from Waste Management, the leading provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America, which employs approximately 500 employees in South Carolina and YesCarolina (Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina), the Charleston-based company with a goal to teach public school teachers how to teach entrepreneurship and thus teaching children to be entrepreneurs.
“We believe in giving back and making a positive difference in the communities we serve, especially when it impacts the lives of young people,” said Bob Peeler, Community Relations Manager for Waste Management. “We are proud to support YesCarolina and its mission of instilling the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Founder of YesCarolina Jimmy Bailey said he was reading an Associated Press article in the Post and Courier last May on how Marion County has the highest unemployment in the state when he came up with the idea for the program. He said if FMU could teach high school children to be entrepreneurs, then they can teach adults.
Bailey said the program’s success would have statewide and even national implications. Marion Mayor and County Economic Development Director Rodney Berry and Marion County Adult Education Director Candyce Brooks were on hand to offer support for what they said should be a first step in changing the financial forecast for the Pee Dee region.
The program will consist of limited lectures and more of hands on and team work activities Zhang said, adding community business leaders will also give presentations and students will develop business plans.
The class is being held at the Swamp Fox Higher Education Center in Marion. Classes will be held Tuesday – Thursday from 9a.m. – 12 p.m.
For more information about the class, call FMU Coordinator of Continuing Education Suzan Orrico at (843) 661-1283 or Brianna Zhang at (843) 661-1112.