Think Globally, Act Locally (and vice versa): Weekly Message from Maggie Campbell, President and CEO of DAMC

Inclusive of a global pandemic, necessity is and always will be the mother of invention. Understanding necessity is the impetus for business innovation. This idea fuels the myriad of virtual programs taking place around the world during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 16-20, 2020.  

At The University of Texas at Arlington, Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020 has become both an opportunity for interacting with UTA experts virtually and a launchpad for real-world commercialization activities, right now and right here in Downtown Arlington.  

Here’s one to watch: MavPitch. With $250,000 in cash prizes to award, the Maverick Business Pitch Competition creates significant incentives for UTA students to explore and express their business ideas. Any current undergraduate or graduate student (up to teams of four) can submit a short video about their business concept by Friday, November 20. After a panel review, finalists will be invited to present a live, six-minute pitch on Thursday, December 3. Anyone can tune in and watch the pitches. Winners of the live pitch round will receive up to $15,000 in venture development funds. 

This is incredible! What an opportunity for potential investors to discover new talent and great ideas-in-the-making. 

Inspired to learn more about starting your own company? Throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week, UT Arlington is hosting pre-recorded panel sessions featuring UTA alumni and students, including previous MavPitch winners. Startup Com topics include funding sources, diversity in entrepreneurship, and start-up stories. The general public is welcome to register for these free virtual sessions at epicmavs.com. To keep the conversation going, the UTA Entrepreneurship Society will host deep dive “fireside chats” via Microsoft Teams on each panel discussion topic at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. To join the fireside chats, email startup@uta.edu.  

By far the most exciting news was shared last Friday by UTA President Lim. With support from the State of Texas, UTA has established the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Innovation (CEEI) to foster a vibrant and collaborative atmosphere for students, entrepreneurs, scholars and community members to create new opportunities, commercialize new technologies, and pioneer new companies.  

UTA Associate Vice President for Research Kimberly Mayer, whose work focuses on supporting interdisciplinary research, is excited about her role as interim Executive Director for the CEEI. The 4,000 square foot center, which is on track to open in mid-2021, is designed to create multi-disciplinary synergies between many of the University’s flagship programs and the entrepreneurial community in Downtown Arlington and beyond. 

“Our vision has the CEEI growing to become a vital component of the North Texas ecosystem for entrepreneurs and economic innovators,” Mayer said. “To that end, we have convened a group of external leaders from across North Texas as our Collaborators Committee. Their broad vision of what our North Texas ecosystem can become over the next decade is helping to guide our early steps with the CEEI.” 

The future home of the new center speaks volumes about the University’s commitment to its public-facing, collaborative vision. It will be at the northeast corner of Center Street and UTA Boulevard, a highly visible location where the University campus meets Downtown. 

“This location will allow direct connections and great flow between the CEEI and the vibrant collection of spaces, resources and services throughout Downtown Arlington,” said Mayer. “There will be two entire walls of windows facing these main thoroughfares. Plans for the interior include space for entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate on projects and attend events that can enhance their networks and help them make connections to launch and grow their companies.”  

As chairperson for the Collaborators Committee, I’ve had a first-hand opportunity to experience the evolution of the CEEI and the unwavering dedication of UT Arlington to collaboration across the board. The Downtown Arlington ecosystem for start-ups, even in the face of COVID-19, is ready, willing and able to support an influx of new creative energy from UTA’s entrepreneurs-in-the-making.  

Speaking of next gen innovators, we’re anticipating an incredible response from the City’s youngest inventors as the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce begins this week to roll out its 15th Annual “What’s Your Big Idea?” Entrepreneurship Contest. What better time than Global Entrepreneurship Week to look ahead to Spring 2021, when Arlington ISD third through twelfth-graders wow us with their fantastic inventions or business concepts relevant for today’s market.  

This year, the Chamber and the AISD are encouraging innovative thinking with hopes of breaking last year’s record number 5,000+ Big Ideas submitted! I forsee that record being shattered, because this is only the second year high school students have been invited to participate. Thanks to a new partnership with the Chamber and the City of Arlington, the City provides challenges based on real issues for the high school students to solve, such as last year’s challenge of preventing materials from becoming contaminated on their way to recycling.  

Another new element to this year’s Entrepreneurship Contest is that the Chamber is launching digital platforms so all students can participate in the entrepreneurial fun, be from an in-person or virtual classroom. Teachers are already beginning to share contest rules with their students, leading up to the judging which begins in February. Can you imagine what 2021 will bring? These young innovators can, and I for one can’t wait to learn about their Big Ideas. 

Click here for more information about "What's Your Big Idea" for elementary, junior high and senior high students.

 

Get Down to Business Starting November 28    

Small Business Saturday in 2020 means more to us than the usual branding and promotional activities. This year, Downtown Arlington is paying heartfelt tributes to our homegrown, entrepreneurial culture.

We’re excited to announce on Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., we’ll be launching a new, free podcast series entitled Down to Business. Down to Business will introduce you to all kinds of entrepreneurs in Downtown Arlington. The series will continue on a bi-weekly basis through the end of the year and into 2021. 

Kicking off Downtown to Business is our exclusive interview and tour with Arlington’s best dressed entrepreneur, Wally Hardin, proprietor of The Man’s Shop at 100 S. West Street. Hardin was 17 years old when he began working at The Man’s Shop in 1972. Nearly three decades later, he purchased The Man’s Shop from then-owner Eddie Williams, who had purchased the business from his father, C.W. Byrd. Inside the brick building with the prominent round windows, Hardin and his team have built and defended the shop’s far-reaching reputation for delivering luxury brands and consummate customer service to generations of clients.  

The Man’s Shop will join Down to Business at 2:00 p.m. on November 28, then new episodes will air at 2:00 p.m. every other Wednesday beginning December 2. In December, we’re looking forward to introducing you to Vikash Bhula and Mitesh Natha of Lone Star Axe; Randy Ford of J. Gilligan’s; and Jerry Shirer of Rita’s

Down to Business will be available on Downtown Arlington’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels. Listeners can also tune in to the audio-only podcast format via Spotify and iTunes. Looking for more Arlington-centric podcasts? Discover Downtown Arlington Roots, our six-episode series of thought-provoking conversations about our district’s fascinating history.