By Dan Mika, Ames Tribune Staff Writer

The Iowa State College of Business is proposing to turn its entrepreneurship minor into a standalone major for undergraduate students by next fall.

David Spalding, dean of the College of Business, said the move is designed to give students interested in creating and running small businesses a specialized skill set that they wouldn’t otherwise learn in larger companies. According to the Small Business Association, 97 percent of companies in Iowa were classified as small businesses and just under half of the Iowa workforce is employed by them.

“Small business is the job engine of Iowa,” he said.

Spalding said ISU’s major, if approved, would be the first public entrepreneurship major in the state. Drake University is the only other school in the state to offer an entrepreneurship major, and at least 100 schools across the country also offer the major. However, Spalding believes ISU’s collaboration with the ISU Research Park and other economic development groups in the area will attract students considering other schools.

“It puts us in a position to be competitive in the region,” he said.

Students in the major will also be required to take practicums to receive their degrees. Diana Wright, a marketing coordinator for the ISU Pappajohn Center, said the group intends to work closely with the major to give students internships at companies based at the Research Park or support student startup ideas.

Spalding expects the about 125 students to join the major once it becomes fully operational. He also expects the undergraduate major to prepare a smaller amount of students for the new doctorate program in entrepreneurship starting this fall. At full size, he expects eight to 10 students in that program per year.

The Iowa Board of Regents will decide whether or not to approve the new major in their meeting on Wednesday.

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