The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

WNCC Sidney Commended for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program


April 20, 2018

Forrest Hershberger

The Western Community College Area Board of Governors met at the Sidney campus Wednesday.

Junior colleges offer more than a step up to a university.

That is the message staff of the Western Nebraska Community College brought to the Western Community College Area Board of Governors Wednesday. The Western Community College Area Board of Governors met at the Sidney campus Wednesday.

The agenda included a discussion on WNCC's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center by Paula Abbott with Nichole Peralta.

Abbott said the cosmetology program closed in 2016, leaving about one-fifth of the campus vacant. The Sidney community was also experiencing significant changes with Bass Pro purchasing Cabela's, resulting in significant job loss in the community.

"We have a lot of talent leaving our service area," Abbot said before the Board of Governors.

She met with the offices of Economic Development and with the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce, resulting in a lunch meeting that resulted in more meetings on how a person can go from concept to entrepreneur. The concept includes WNCC using the former cosmetology center as a business incubator, a place for entrepreneurs to develop their plan with the assistance of college staff. Those who enter the program can be part of the Incubator program for two years at no cost.

"These meetings were so successful, we continued," she said.

Abbott said about 135 people attended the regional meetings.

"The outpouring of response has been wonderful," Abbott said.

She said there is already one business planning to open and add 20 jobs to the community by the end of December.

Additionally, the Business Incubator office is receiving support from the change at Cabela's. Retired furniture from Cabela's is being donated to WNCC's Business Incubator facility.

Among the projects working with WNCC is Nichole Peralta. Peralta is formerly with Panhandle Medical Group, the former provider of mental and behavioral health services in the region. The organization recently announced it will cease to provide services.

Peralta saw an opportunity to continue offering services to the Cheyenne County area. However, she admitted in Wednesday's meeting she is more comfortable offering therapy than efficient office management. With the Innovation & Entrepreneur Center, she is gaining the skills to open her own practice.

"I feel more confident knowing I have the support behind me," she said.

Abbott said the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is much bigger than an office space at the college.

Board of Governors Chairperson Julienne Walworth commended Abbott and the WNCC staff for taking a negative in the community and making it a positive.


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