Students and Politicians Talk Business at FUEL
“You are the future of economic prosperity.”
In the wake of some economic uncertainty in Connecticut after General Electric’s announcement of a move to Boston, Congressman Jim Himes’ (D-CT 4th District) words were motivating.
Congressman Himes visited FUEL, Fairfield University’s Entrepreneurship Laboratory, headquarters in downtown Fairfield on Tuesday, February 16. Joined by Senator Tony Hwang (R-CT 28th District) and Representative John Shaban (R-135), the three discussed the importance of entrepreneurship with students and local community members.
“This is personal to me,” said Himes. “In my past professional life, I saw the way businesses transformed communities. It really is incredible. What you folks are doing is essential to our state’s economy.”
The visit was part of the official launch of two student-created businesses, as well as a soft-launch rebranding of the space. The morning started with brief words from Don Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business, as he talked about the history of FUEL (formerly FAME) and heralded the success of students and community members since its doors opened three years ago.
“Since opening our doors in 2013, 10 companies have successfully used the space, resulting in 20 jobs and over $500 thousand dollars in fundraising and investments,” said Gibson. “Fourteen corporate sponsorships have helped place Fairfield University students in over 20 internship opportunities.”
All three discussed how GE's departure would affect—both negatively and positively—Fairfield County. Senator Hwang said, “We have a responsibility to encourage these programs and to continue to support our economy so something like this doesn’t happen again.”
A main focus of the event was to officially announce a fundraising campaign for CommuneALERT, a collaborative project between Dolan School’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Chris Hamer, and Dr. Carl Scheraga. CommuneALERT is a location-based app for reporting suspicious activity. Hamer and 12 University student-interns will soon launch an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to raise the funds needed for marketing and continued development.
As the morning concluded with an impromptu round table, the politicians asked students for their “elevator” pitches for the app, as well as their future business goals. While encouraging students to stay focused on their goals, Representative Shaban said that the American spirit and economy are alive.
“Don’t let anyone tell you anything different,” he said.
Pictured: Students meet with Congressman Himes, Senator Hwang, and Representative Shaban at the FUEL headquarters; Image Credit: Joe Adams.