ConnCORP/Quinnipiac Community Entrepreneurship Academy and Clinics recognized by Connecticut Governor

May 06, 2024

Director of the ConnCORP/QU Community Entrepreneurship Academy and Clinics, Tuvana Rua, smiles with award in front of background

In just two years since its inception, the transformative work of ConnCORP/Quinnipiac University Community Entrepreneurship Academy and Clinics has significantly impacted the success of nearly 40 entrepreneurs with minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses in the greater New Haven area.

At the Connecticut Workforce Summit on April 16, the program was recognized by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

It was the youngest program to be recognized with an honorable mention and the only one focused on entrepreneurship, said School of Business associate professor of management Tuvana Rua. Rua serves as the director of the ConnCORP/QU Community Entrepreneurship Academy and Clinics.

Rua said there are many partners involved in the program’s success, starting with Jahkeeva Morgan, director of programming at the lab at ConnCORP in Hamden.

“This is a joint partnership,” said Rua. “We have phenomenal partners at ConnCORP that is making this initiative possible and it could not be done without Jahkeeva’s wonderful presence and expertise and compassion and passion.”

The entrepreneurial incubator was launched with an earmark grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration awarded to Quinnipiac. The program is currently providing robust opportunities to a promising second cohort of business owners and is also proud of the success of its inaugural class, which graduated in May 2023. 

“Given that it has not even been a year since they graduated, it is quite a significant number of success stories that we have received,” said Rua.

Among last year’s cohort, six entrepreneurs have received grants based on business plans completed throughout the program.

“We had 18 graduates last year, so literally one-third of that population received grants,” said Rua.

Additionally, one of the entrepreneurs secured two government contracts. Another opened a brick-and-mortar store, another enlarged her business space and another entrepreneur reported a significant revenue increase due to the program’s assistance with refining service and audience targets.

“From an impact perspective, even within the limited time, we are seeing a lot of success and we’re hoping that will continue with this cohort as well,” Rua said.

The current entrepreneur cohort of 18 will graduate on May 22.

Among many supportive opportunities provided to the entrepreneurs, mentorships are a big factor, as demonstrated by the number of entrepreneurs from the inaugural class who are continuing to work with the mentors they were paired with last summer, Rua noted.

“They built long-lasting relationships and they’re continuing on their journey,” she said.

The program also provides its entrepreneurs with assistance provided by faculty members and opportunities to work with Quinnipiac students from across several disciplines.

“It's a great symbiotic relationship that helps both sides,” said Rua.

This year, over 20 cinematic production management students helped entrepreneurs produce small business video commercials. Five business project management students completed projects with entrepreneurs. Two School of Communications students conducted public relations audits of the entrepreneurs’ marketing plans.

“We also have our cybersecurity students who have been doing cybersecurity audits for the businesses. A quarter of the entrepreneurs chose to utilize that service in the spring, the remainder are going to utilize that in the summer,” said Rua. “And then we have entrepreneurship students who are with them throughout the program, who serve as student mentors. They have been meeting and giving feedback to their business plans and that aspect is still going on.”

This summer, two Quinnipiac student internships which are funded by the program, will support the newly graduated entrepreneurs with designing websites and other needs.

Rua is also grateful for faculty assistance to the program including the efforts of Blythe Elin Frank, assistant professor of film, television and media arts, and director of the cinematic production management master's program; John Powers, assistant professor of interactive media and design, and director of the interactive media and communications graduate program; Frederick Scholl, associate teaching professor of cybersecurity, and director of the cybersecurity program; and Amy Paros, associate professor of management.

“And then, we have all of our instructors in the program that have been teaching the content,” said Rua. “It’s a team effort. I would not be able to do what I do without these wonderful people.”

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