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IDEA BANK: Troy Bank and Trust donates $500,000 to program

Troy University officials Thursday formally announced the ‘IDEA Bank,’ an Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA) for the Sorrell College of Business.

They also announced their partnership with Troy Bank and Trust on the project, securing a $500,000 donation for the program.

“The bank is always looking for opportunities to support our shareholders in a long and lasting way,” said Jeff Kervin, president and CEO. “This is a way for us to validate that and pass along those ideals. We want to share how to create and run a business and we also want to support Downtown Troy. It was just a natural fit. Our mission is to pass along the things we’ve learned.. This will help numerous students learn first-hand about business, capitalism and entrepreneurship, which is what future generations of business leaders need to know.”

The donation nearly covers the cost the Troy University Foundation gave to purchase the former Regions Bank building on the Square earlier this summer at $535,000. The building will serve as the center for the program, providing a facility that will allow students to experiment with different business and product ideas.

The facility could also be used to house select business majors on its second floor, providing an environment where blossoming business majors work and live together.

“We want this to be an application-oriented, experimental program,” said Judson Edwards, dean of the business college. “This building is a big component of that foundation. We want this building to be a learning, living lab. This building is going to be all about doing. We’ve been inspired by what we’ve seen from our students in terms of energy and desire to start their own businesses, and we want to be sure they are getting the support and assistance they need,”

A key inspiration for the IDEA Bank was the story of Avalon Dudinsky, a marketing major who successfully launched a business selling the all-purpose seasoning “Stan’s Stuff.” She did so with the help of various University resources, including the Small Business Development Center and collaboration with the graphic design program. However, the process of finding and bringing together those resources was not easy.

“Avalon’s story really helped us realize how fragmented our support systems were at Troy,” Edwards said. “Her determination helped her overcome those obstacles, but how many students have failed to launch a business because they needed help, and didn’t know how to get it?”

The IDEA Bank will streamline the process for students who need help with a business venture. The Small Business Development Center will move there, making it more accessible to both students and members of the community.

“We were eager to find a way to connect the university and downtown in a very concrete way,” said Walter D. Givhan, Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development. “Everybody saw that this could be a win-win for the University, community, businesses and students.”

“We have three entities here with Troy in their names, and all three began right here downtown,” said Mayor Jason Reeves. “This is the genesis. We’ve gotten where we are by working together and I don’t think there’s a better example than this. It’s an incredible opportunity. We have worked and clawed and fought to rebuild the heart of our community. This is the piece that’s been missing– the university coming back to where it began.”

The move not only lets the University support the continued growth of downtown, Givhan said, but it puts students in closer proximity to local business leaders whose mentorship will be an important component of the IDEA Bank’s efforts.

“This very much aligns with our philosophy of hands-on, experiential learning,” Givhan said. “Let’s make the community their classroom.”