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Atlanta Technical College Provides Blueprint for Future Business Owners

From Henry Ford to Eli Whitney and Madame C.J. Walker to Herman J. Russell, the American entrepreneurial spirit has defined centuries of problem solvers and solution seekers. Simply stated, entrepreneurship is an American tradition that has shaped the very fabric of our nation and empowered the United States to remain a dominant global economic force.

Many people consider Atlanta Technical College (ATC) as the training ground for essential careers and technical trades, which is, indeed, true. But for many of our current and past students, ATC represents an avenue towards business ownership that spurs a pathway to economic mobility and a break from more traditional corporate constraints. However, business ownership is often a road less-traveled due to the unforeseen twists and turns that come with entrepreneurship. And while national statistics reflect that approximately 20% of businesses fail in the first year, ATC is working to buck that trend through an entrepreneurial-based curriculum that promotes business ownership preparation and success.

According to the Small Business Administration, domestic small businesses account for more than two-thirds of the net new jobs being created, representing 44% of national economic activities and employing nearly 59 million Americans. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs symbolize the backbone of our economy and embody the hope for our nation’s financial recovery.

“For decades, ATC has been a guiding force in providing the blueprint for our students, not only to obtain life-changing technical skills and careers, but also to become job creators and business leaders,” said ATC President Dr. Victoria Seals. “We want our students to explore the professional possibilities and the realities of business ownership and prepare them to go from a start-up company to a thriving enterprise.”

A Proven Track Record of Success

Charlotte and Steve Howard
Charlotte and Steve Howard

After graduating from ATC in 1973, Steven Howard started his career in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) but would later branch off into launching his Arizona-based company, The ACT Group, Inc. The ACT Group was created in 1985 to help HVAC service technicians improve their technical and communication skills, teaching contractors and their team members how to improve marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, and installation skills.

“Atlanta Tech prepared me to not only learn the ins and outs of my industry but also gave me the drive to master my craft. Our instructors represented the best in the business, and they required the best from each of us,” said Howard. “Success for me is not solely defined by our profits but by the lives we touch and the families we help. Being a business owner has allowed me to provide our employees with great careers and our customers with outstanding quality service. Since 1985, we have worked to train future small business owners to develop the skills, business processes, and confidence to achieve success in entrepreneurship.”

Entrepreneurship in and of itself is a high-risk, high-reward venture with no guarantees of success or sustainability. Understanding these challenges, ATC provides courses to support those who seek to master their respective fields of study and establish a foundation as entrepreneurs.

One such example is ATC alumnus Chef Darrell “Das” Smith, who coupled his passion for the culinary arts into a business empire that has taken him from Hollywood to the White House. Smith, who is a
published author and a rising culinary figure on major television networks, credits his alma mater for nurturing his passion for cooking and business. “Even as a student, I was dreaming big. There was a lack of representation in the industry and I wanted to change that by building my own company from the ground up,” said Smith. “ATC gave me the opportunity to pursue this life-long dream as well as the blueprint to be successful at building my business and brand.”

A major factor in ATC’s success in producing entrepreneurs is the institution’s commitment to incorporating business principles and classes in various curriculums. “We know that owning a business is not an easy task, yet it is not an impossible endeavor either,” said Mr. Robert Leach, current Dean of Business and Public Service Technologies, and former entrepreneurship instructor. “My goal is to make the dream of entrepreneurship more obtainable. I often run into students who initially never imagined they could own a business. But now, they have a thriving business with dozens of employees and are inspiring the next generation to dream a little bigger.”

Students can earn an Entrepreneurship technical certificate in as little as two semesters and will also gain valuable lessons in entrepreneurship whether pursuing a diploma or Associate degree in Marketing Management.

For more information on these programs visit the Marketing/Entrepreneur program page or contact Dean Robert Leach at rleach@atlantatech.edu. Prospective students can apply today for the Fall semester!

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