The University of Arizona

McGuire Center Launches Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives

By Johnny Cruz, June 16, 2008

Eller MBA and McGuire Center alumnus Guillermo "Bill" Quiroga will direct the new initiatives, which cover four sectors in southern Arizona.

Eller MBA and McGuire Center alumnus Guillermo "Bill" Quiroga will head up the new Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives, which will support the production of a sustainable innovation-based economy in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of the Eller College of Management)
Eller MBA and McGuire Center alumnus Guillermo "Bill" Quiroga will head up the new Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives, which will support the production of a sustainable innovation-based economy in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of the Eller College of Management)

A new initiative at The University of Arizona will work to build an entrepreneurial base in border communities and rural areas in southern Arizona so that employers will have an easier time finding talent within the state’s boundaries.

It's also about keeping talent in Arizona.

To stimulate both entrepreneurial opportunity and entrepreneurial thinkers by preparing individuals to recognize business opportunities and act on them, the UA's McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship has launched Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives.

The IFA and new intitiatives "work hand in hand to both create, stimulate and advance entrepreneurial capacity through the community activities," said Sherry Hoskinson, director of the McGuire Center.

"Simply doing one or the other does not create true potential," Hoskinson said. "Entrepreneurship itself is integral for IFA as it is for any community and economy. Entrepreneurship empowers individuals to create economic and community change."

The new project – a set of initiatives – will help individuals to become more business-minded by focusing on individuals in four groups or segments: elementary education, the college-level, emerging entrepreneurs and mature business enterprises.

The initiatives, which are centered on building a sustainable innovation-based economy in Arizona, are in line with Gov. Janet Napolitano’s Innovation Frontier Arizona, or IFA. In fact, the UA's McGuire Center and the Office of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach are among more than 40 partners with IFA, which works to align education, work force development and economic development.

The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives are centered on building entrepreneurial capacity through community programs designed to serve new and would-be entrepreneurs.

Last week, the McGuire Center took an important step forward with the appointment of entrepreneur Guillermo "Bill" Quiroga, who will direct the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives.

“Bill is uniquely qualified to maximize IFA’s plan and create true entrepreneurial capacity through these four segments,” Hoskinson said.

Quiroga, who joined the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the UA’s Eller College of Management, hails from Native American Botanics Corp., which he launched from the McGuire program. He has server as its president and CEO for the past 10 years.

In 1998, while finishing his master's degree in business administration at the Eller College of Management, Quiroga entered the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and wrote the business plan for Native American Botanics.

Since launching that venture, he has earned several awards, including the Eller College of Management’s Alumni Achievement Award and induction into the UA’s McGuire Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame for Outstanding Development of a Socially Aware Business.

A member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, he is actively involved in the American Indian community, having served organizations including the San Ignacio Yaqui Council of Old Pascua Village, the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Housing Authority, and the Tucson Indian Center, where he was executive director from 1990 to 1996.

“He is an entrepreneur in his own right. His business experience is regionally relevant and culturally specific,” Hoskinson said. "And he has significant ties throughout southern Arizona. It is an ideal match.”

The McGuire Center’s Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives will target four key populations to create and foster an entrepreneurial culture in southern Arizona. Each initiative fits with broader regional population-specific goals. They are:

  • IdeaFair: The project will use the traditional science fair model and scientific investigation as a method for exploring problem-based business solutions. IdeaFair will prepare students to better understand entrepreneurial principles, establishing a foundation for solving problems in their homes, schools and communities. It will also engage teachers in ways to enhance their classroom instruction.
  • Entrepreneurship Curriculum Development: Working in partnership with regional community colleges and UA South, the project will engaged K-12 students in higher-level involvement with entrepreneurial principles. It will enable exploration into the range of environments where the principles can be applied to address problems of the community and the economy.
  • IdeaXchange: This project establishes a social network among emerging and existing entrepreneurs to share information and receive experienced, hands-on guidance regarding all aspects of business formation and growth.
  • Rural Entrepreneurship Society: The society will capture the experience and vision of IFA regional leaders in order to have a powerful impact on communities. The group focuses on regional assessments of resources, opportunities, challenges, and policy recommendations in order to celebrate entrepreneurial achievement.

“Southern Arizona has a high-tech economy centered on border interests – border management, homeland security, aerospace, military and defense industries,” Quiroga said.

“The problem we have now is that employers have to go outside the region to find qualified employees,” he added. “The long-range vision is to grow the needed employees locally – building a work force that can identify and act on opportunities to stimulate entrepreneurial growth, which will in turn provide healthier communities and economies."

Contacts

Linda Herrick

Eller College of Management

520-626-2590