The Mine comes to OKC

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 By: Katelyn Howard Source: The Journal Record

The Mine is recruiting.

The OU fellowship program is looking for young professionals to address community issues. They use what The Mine calls social innovation and social entrepreneurship in metro area businesses and nonprofits.

The program started in Tulsa in 2013 through the University of Oklahoma’s Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, which is part of the Price College of Business. In September, the nine-month fellowship will take place in Oklahoma City for the first time.

Fellows will work on projects that are achievable, make a difference, engage young professionals over the entire fellowship and allow businesses or nonprofits to move forward with the completed projects.

Participants also receive intensive leadership development. Susan Moring, director of Oklahoma City programs for the Ronnie K. Irani Center, said 47 percent of the past fellows have received a promotion within a year of completing the program.

“It has an effect on their careers and getting promoted by raising their aspiration of what they can do,” Moring said. “The benefits are twofold since they are helping the community, but also helping their careers and leadership.”

Many businesses in Oklahoma City and the broader metro area are interested in social innovation and social entrepreneurship, but she said many have not yet become involved. Moring said she hopes the projects in Oklahoma City will have a similar impact as past projects in Tulsa.

Former projects include Kitchen 66, a food business incubator in Tulsa that offers a commercial kitchen, food industry training and sales opportunities. The Mine team built the operational plan to get the kitchen up and running. It has been in service for four years and serves 60 aspiring food entrepreneurs.

Another project was Modus, a service similar to Uber tailored for nonprofits. Volunteer drivers have rides scheduled for members of the youth population, often from low-income families, who have difficulties getting transportation to their medical or social appointments.

Evan Fay, manager of innovation and entrepreneurship with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the program has the potential for a large fiscal impact since it could create thousands of dollars and jobs. He said the program will help retain talent in Oklahoma City that would otherwise move to other job markets, and it provides workers skill sets as needs change.

“I think The Mine is important for Oklahoma City like it is for Tulsa since it will utilize and give purpose to young professionals in Oklahoma City,” Fay said.

Even though the projects have not yet been finalized, he hopes to see the fellows help minority small business owners get the tools they need for success.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t limited to the upper class,” Fay said. “The only thing that separates a lower- and upper-class entrepreneur is the education they are provided.”

When the program first started, Ben Stewart, senior program officer at the George Kaiser Family Foundation, helped bring it to Tulsa, and said the program has given young professionals a hands-on learning experience by allowing them to engage deeply with community peers. He said it has also helped retain and recruit more professionals in the region.

Participants in the first Oklahoma City program will receive a discounted tuition rate of $950, according to the application. Twenty fellows, 10 in each city, will be accepted to The Mine fellowship program.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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