November 21, 2023
Sacramento State's Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship led the region's Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) activities for the fifth year in a row, winning a $250,000 state grant and solidifying its position as a powerhouse of economic growth. .
Claire Whitmer, NorCal regional advisor for the California Small Business Advocacy Bureau (CalOSBA), announced the grant during the Sacramento Entrepreneurial State of the Union at the Carlsen Center on Nov. 13, the first day of GEW.
CalOSBA awards Accelerate California: Inclusive Innovation Hub grants to organizations that provide entrepreneurial training, coaching, mentorship, and access to capital and small business resources.
The Carlsen Center was one of five organizations to receive second round funding, including Chapman University, HumanMade, iHub San Joaquin, and Plug In South Los Angeles.
Whitmer, who is also the deputy assistant director for regional economic partnerships, told the audience that California is home to 4.2 million small businesses.
“They run our economy… They are the leaders of our communities,” Whitmer said. “Of those 4.2 million people, 98% have 20 or fewer jobs. So we have to create those jobs en masse, while also creating an environment for good companies. “Because that's what makes us California and brings talent and capital to our economy.” ”
Global Entrepreneurship Week began in 2008. Currently, organizations in over 200 countries host his 40,000 events, with an estimated 10 million participants.
“The work being done here[at the Carlsen Center]to partner with community leaders and organizations to grow an entrepreneurial culture and transform the lives of students in the process is impressive and essential for the future. We are the only public university in the capital of the world's fifth-largest economy, and we act as such.” — Sacramento State President Luke Wood
The Carlsen Center has served as a hub for GEW activities in the region since Cameron Roe became executive director five years ago.
He launched the first Sacramento Entrepreneurs State of the Union in 2019.
President Luke Wood, an alumnus of Sac State University, spoke at the event and called the university a central institution embedded in the community.
“As I look around the room, I see entrepreneurs, community leaders, and other passionate people who are committed to growing the greater Sacramento region and providing Sac State students with the skills, opportunities, and mentorship they need to make our region a brighter place. ,” Wood said in his speech.
“The work being done here[at the Carlsen Center]to partner with community leaders and organizations to grow an entrepreneurial culture and transform the lives of students in the process is impressive and essential for the future. We are the only public university in the capital of the world's fifth-largest economy, and we act as such.”
This year, the Carlsen Center organized 27 events across the region.
Mentor Sprint, a “speed dating” event for entrepreneurs and mentors, featured multiple regional investors, advisors, and experts offering 15-minute advice sessions to early-stage entrepreneurs and startups.
“Sacramento needs to increase its visibility for entrepreneurs and investors, and I think the Carlsen Center is one place to do that,” said Gabriel Garcia, a Sacramento corporate attorney who served as a mentor. “Otherwise we will remain in the shadow of Silicon Valley. That's why I like being part of the changes and investor landscape in Sacramento.”
Four budding entrepreneurs from the Sacramento area have won $20,000 in prize money in the Spark Venture Competition. The 50 applicants were narrowed down to 10 finalists, who pitched their businesses on November 15th.
Maurice Pitesky, founder of AgriNerds, Inc., took first place in the for-profit category, and Heather Rankow and Ashley Keyes of Rely-Real Estate were runners-up.
In the social impact category, Maria Medrano of Insprame won first place and Shweta Gandhi of Strived.io took second place.
The Carlsen Center's work has helped bring much-needed attention to the role entrepreneurs play in fostering economic growth.
“Entrepreneurship is gaining more attention and I think the fact that it's being added to the regional strategy is a huge step forward,” Mr Low said. “This is one of the key pillars that leaders are now focusing on for the region's growth.”
Until now, the focus has been on attracting big companies because they bring a lot of high-paying jobs, he added. But those companies don't always survive.
“Creating new businesses is proven to be the best way to create jobs. … Because entrepreneurs have a connection to place, they are more likely to stay in the communities where they start and grow.” said Mr Law.