University News

Zions Bank Gives SUU Generous Donation to Support Entrepreneurial Programs

Published: October 20, 2006 | Category: Special Events

(written by Isaac Holyoak, junior Communication major from Murray, Utah)

Southern Utah University was awarded a generous donation of $35,000 by Zions Bank CEO, A. Scott Anderson, during an Oct. 12 Chamber of Commerce luncheon hosted at SUU.

“It was a very pleasant surprise,” says Craig Isom, Director of SUU’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Isom didn’t find out about the donation until just before the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Zions Bank Cedar City downtown branch that afternoon. Dr. Carl Templin, Dean of the School of Business, called Isom right before the ceremony and told him they needed to go thank Zions Bank for the contribution.

“I was absolutely ecstatic over the announcement,” says Templin. “I am extraordinarily grateful to Zions Bank for making an investment in the students of SUU and our region.”

The donation is being awarded in two installments. The first installment of $10,000 will be used as award money for the School of Business’s Best Business Plan competition next semester, according to Templin. The second chunk of $25,000 will “serve as seed money…to support SUU student entrepreneurs,” he says.

“It is the first stake in an angel fund,” clarifies Isom. An angel fund consists of venture capital that is invested into a company at a very early stage, according to Isom. In this respect, angel funds are slightly different than normal venture capital funds. Generally, venture capitalists invest in businesses that are further along developmentally. They expect a very high return on their investment in a short amount of time—about five years. Angel funds, however, allow a longer timeframe for a return on investment. As starting businesses begin to profit, the angel fund will then replenish itself, Isom says.

Isom sees this donation as just the beginning. “There’s a real momentum to this…a certain synergy.” He and Templin envision a type of “incubator space” where new businesses could get started. Incubator space is a center used for the development of existing businesses as well as specific kinds of start-up businesses, according to Wes Curtis, Assistant to the President & Director of Regional Services. It would provide such things as a lunchroom, office space, and a shared receptionist, Isom mentions.

This program will engage students with the tools they need to succeed, Isom says. “(It) will provide meaningful entrepreneur opportunities to students.” The money will be placed in a fund for entrepreneurs and will be used in partnership with the SBDC. As stipulated by CEO Anderson, the money will be used and managed by students.

The SBDC serves Iron, Beaver and Garfield counties in partnership with the Small Business Administration. The Zions Bank donation is particularly important for this region as entrepreneurial funds are often hard to come by, comments Isom.

Templin says the money will provide support not only to entrepreneurs, but also to boosting the economy of southern Utah. “I am extraordinarily grateful to Zions Bank,” remarks Templin. “We are going to make sure that investment grows and grows.”

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