SFA’s Rusche College of Business names Matthew Smilor entrepreneurship center director
NACOGDOCHES — Matthew Smilor, former director of the award-winning Values and Ventures program for the Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Texas Christian University, has been named director of the Arnold Center for Entrepreneurship in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business.
During his leadership, Values and Ventures became the No. 1 undergraduate venture creation program in the United States.
“I believe that every person is an entrepreneur and possesses an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smilor said. “It is our goal to help them tap into that spirit and pursue their entrepreneurial passions.”
With a dramatic increase in 1099 contract employees and people establishing “side hustles,” entrepreneurs are the keystone to economic development and growth, Smilor added.
“It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, and ACE is going to be there to help, guide, cheer, support, educate and encourage,” he said.
Launched last summer, ACE houses SFA’s Small Business Resource Hub and is working to implement entrepreneurship programs for the community, including the soon-to-be-launched Piney Woods Entrepreneurship Network, to help develop Nacogdoches as an entrepreneurial city through educational initiatives.
“The network will bring together lawyers, accountants, bankers, investors, entrepreneurs and students,” Smilor said. “It will be a good learning environment for the students.”
In addition to helping launch a new center with the support of business faculty and staff and benefactor Greg Arnold, a 1987 SFA graduate and CEO of TAC – The Arnold Companies, the city of Nacogdoches was a big draw for Smilor.
“It is wonderful to have a community that is so interwoven with the university, takes a true interest in its people and wants to take an active role in ensuring success,” he said.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs make up 99.9% of the businesses in the United States, according to Smilor.
“Being able to provide the tools, resources, know-how and support in an atmosphere where starting a business is not as daunting, scary or intimidating as many perceive it to be is critical to help nurture today’s growing entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially in East Texas,” he said. “Our goal is to become a world-class center that is the hub for entrepreneurship for the entire region.”
For students, ACE offers mentoring, scholarships and internships; travel to competitions and field trips; support for SFA’s Society for Entrepreneurial Advancement; and funding for the campuswide Lumberjack Entrepreneurship Competition, planned for April 21.
Smilor holds an Executive Master of Business Administration from TCU and a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Colorado Boulder.
In his spare time, Smilor said he works to be “the best cheer dad that I can be to two incredible daughters. I also attempt to hit golf balls long and straight and fly-fish in Colorado or wherever else they may be biting.”
ACE and its subunit, SBRH, are two of four entities launched recently by the College of Business to help bolster local businesses. The others are Business and Community Services and the Center for Business and Economic Research.
For more information, visit sfasu.edu/ace.
Cutline: Matthew Smilor, former director of the award-winning Values and Ventures program for the Neeley Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Texas Christian University, has been named director of the Arnold Center for Entrepreneurship in Stephen F. Austin State University’s Rusche College of Business.