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Belmont entrepreneurship program recognized among best in nation

The Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University was recently named one of the Top 25 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship in 2017 by The Princeton Review in tandem with Entrepreneur.

The list was determined by analyzing six categories. The categories included academics and requirements, students and faculty, alumni entrepreneurship ventures, opportunities outside of class, competitions hosted by school/program and financial aid.

Elizabeth Gortmaker, the current director of Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship, was very excited upon hearing the program had been named one of the top in the nation for the sixth year.

“Huge universities like Texas Christian University and Texas A&M are on it. Obviously, schools like Babson who do an amazing job with entrepreneurship, too,” Gortmaker said. “So, of course it’s an honor to be recognized. I hope that the efforts that we do will help the larger university of Belmont and bring attention to what the entire university is doing.”

With more than 10 different specialized entrepreneurship courses, 3,500 square feet of retail space, a professional grade office space and dedicated faculty, Belmont’s Center for Entrepreneurship has no trouble setting itself apart from more than 300 institutions with entrepreneurship programs.

The combination of all of the program is offering is what allows the program to excel, Gortmaker said.

“Everything from our student organizations to our student-run businesses and then all the resources we have for our student entrepreneur create a very well-rounded, kind of holistic approach to supporting the student entrepreneur in every phase of the business,” said Gortmaker.

Belmont’s program uses its retail space on Belmont Boulevard as an area for students from any major to develop businesses providing goods or services to the greater community. Currently, House Of and Boulevard Records are housed in the space.

“The businesses are student-run and student-managed. The students manage employees and make marketing strategies and business plans,” said Gortmaker.

Students are also provided with an office space called The Hatchery, which provides a collaborative space for students who are thinking about beginning a business or are in the early stages of doing so, according to its website.

Free legal clinics, roundtables of experienced professionals and accounting clinics are among the resources provided alongside the physical establishments.

Nashville native Chase McLaughlin is a freshman seeking a degree in business entrepreneurship. After hearing the reputation of the program, she has only become more interested in her future as an entrepreneur.

“A lot of my family have their own businesses, and I grew up watching them run their businesses. I think it’s pretty cool to be your own boss,” said McLaughlin. “I heard a speaker in my first course, and I’m really excited to hear more about how alumni and other speakers have gotten their businesses up and running.”

Graduates of the program have gone on to create successful businesses ranging from digital marketing, food trucks, production, collaboration services and immersive activities. Graduate Jonathan Murrell is responsible for one of the most notable alumni startup business, The Escape Game – the puzzling immersive adventure that has participants solve puzzles in order to escape a locked room. Founded in Nashville in 2013, the business has five different locations in four different states.

More than anything, Gortmaker made it clear she hopes graduates involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont always know their alma mater supports them.

“Belmont is a place that truly seeks to support the student. Everything about the student, we want to support and that continues after they graduate,” said Gortmaker.

This article was written by Mamie Davis.

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