A historic bank building in downtown Troy, Ala., will soon house a new kind of bank, one dedicated to investing in student entrepreneurship.
Recently purchased by the Troy University Foundation, the former bank building on Troy’s downtown square will soon house the IDEA Bank, an initiative of the Sorrell College of Business aimed at cultivating and supporting student entrepreneurs who will launch business ventures in collaboration with faculty, fellow students and mentors from the community.
The IDEA Bank is yet another example of the close “town and gown” relationship between the city, local business and the University, said Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.
“This is truly a vision of collaboration between the University and community in an educational venture that will yield tangible benefits,” Hawkins said.
The IDEA Bank will house the new Troy Bank and Trust Entrepreneurship Program, an interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Minor designed to provide students with a strong understanding of business and entrepreneurship theory, practices and applications.
“We’ve been inspired by what we’ve seen from our students in terms of energy and desire to start their own businesses, and we want to be sure they are getting the support and assistance they need,” said Dr. Judson Edwards, Dean of the Sorrell College of Business.
The program will be supported by a $500,000 donation from Troy Bank and Trust, announced today during a press conference at the IDEA Bank location.
“We are very happy to be associated with Troy University and to be a funding partner for the establishment of the Troy Bank and Trust Entrepreneurship program in the Sorrell College of Business,” said Jeff Kervin, Troy Bank and Trust President and CEO. “This will help numerous students learn first-hand about business, capitalism and entrepreneurship, which is what future generations of business leaders need to know.”
A key inspiration for the IDEA Bank was the story of Avalon Dudinsky, a marketing major who successfully launched a business selling the all-purpose seasoning “Stan’s Stuff.” She did so with the help of various University resources, including the Small Business Development Center and collaboration with the graphic design program. However, the process of finding and bringing together those resources was not easy.
“Avalon’s story really helped us realize how fragmented our support systems were at TROY,” Edwards said. “Her determination helped her overcome those obstacles, but how many students have failed to launch a business because they needed help, and didn’t know how to get it?”
The IDEA Bank (which stands for Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Accelerator) will streamline the process for students who need help with a business venture. The Small Business Development Center will move there, making it more accessible to both students and members of the community. The IDEA Bank will house classes, special events and provide a flexible, collaborative space for students to work together.
Opening the IDEA Bank on the city square marks something of a homecoming for TROY, which was originally located downtown before moving to its current location in the early 1900s.
“We were eager to find a way to connect the university and downtown in a very concrete way,” said Walter D. Givhan, Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development. “Everybody saw that this could be a win-win for the University, community, businesses and students.”
The move not only lets the University support the continued growth of downtown, Givhan said, but it puts students in closer proximity to local business leaders whose mentorship will be an important component of the IDEA Bank’s efforts.
“This very much aligns with our philosophy of hands-on, experiential learning,” Givhan said. “Let’s make the community their classroom.”