Priorities:Rowan University Faculty Project

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Project Name: The Rowan 100-for-100 Small and Home-Based Business Initiative (Rowan100)

Project by Faculty Innovation Fellows Candidate Michael Dominik

Why is this project important to you, your department, & your Fellows?

In 2023, Rowan University will celebrate the 100th year since its founding. Rowan100 will be an innovative initiative to create 100 new small-and home-based businesses in the local Glassboro community surrounding the University. Rowan100 will target its efforts to benefit impoverished residents and will inspire our UIF students while they deliver a positive impact to this community. Rowan 100 will also enable faculty and staff members of the Colleges of Business and Engineering, and other Rowan colleges, to contribute their knowledge and skills as teachers and mentors. As the FIF candidate, I want to improve the lives of the people in our Rowan-area community. Innovation and entrepreneurship are pathways to that end.


Rowan University was founded in 1923 in the borough of Glassboro, New Jersey, and as of 2021 was the USA's fourth fastest-growing public research university. Glassboro has a diverse population of some 21,000 persons. Starting in the early 2000s, the downtown area of Glassboro has been significantly revitalized, triggered by the 1992 actio of entrepreneur and industrialist Henry Rowan who pledged 100 million dollars to transform and revitalize engineering education in southern New Jersey. Glassboro State College was subsequently renamed after him as Rowan University. However, there still remains a substantial portion of the population left behind in terms of personal income growth. According to 2019 US Census Bureau data, 24.4% of Glassboro’s population lives in poverty (see how this is measured). The Rowan100 initiative seeks to leverage innovation and entrepreneurship as the sparks of economic growth and to elevate those who seek to pull themselves up from poverty income levels. As the University approaches its 100th year in 2023, Rowan100 envisions one hundred new small and home-based businesses formed and launched in Glassboro by the end of the calendar year 2023. This bold initiative would increase the number of businesses in Glassboro by more than 10% (see the US Census Bureau data) and would place priority on lifting those community members who live below the US poverty level. In particular, home-based businesses and micro-entrepreneurs that often do not qualify for government assistance such as tax relief, location incentives, etc. will be supported and nurtured. The Rowan100 initiative will seek to vitalize small and home-based businesses in Glassboro as an extension of Henry Rowan’s munificence.

The Rowan100 Small Business Initiative will provide on-campus training, mentoring, and support for entrepreneurial individuals and teams who are willing to create Glassboro-based new businesses. Each new business will be legally formed and registered with the State of NJ at the start of 2-month training cycles. Applicants will be encouraged and drawn from the local community, with priority emphasis for local residents who currently function below the economic poverty level. Grants will be solicited for the legal business registration with the State of NJ (currently $125 for an LLC for the first year, which therefore requires $12,500 for 100 new businesses), and additional grants will be sought to support further new business investments as required. Phase 1 is a 2-month training program that features six 4-hour meetings that utilize Design Thinking methods to spur innovative initiatives toward opportunity recognition, and then guide applicants through the basics of how to turn their ideas about needs and wants into a small business. Upon completion of the training phase, applicants can apply to the 3-month mentoring phase of the initiative, during which real-world mentors will work with applicants to aid them through the early stages of their new business. Grant initiatives will be emplaced, and micro-lending approaches will be explored to assist in non-traditional financing where worthwhile.

The initiative will provide support and assistance to the nascent business owners in the form of advice, free student and faculty time, one-on-one counseling, and guidance to find the necessary resources - people, material, equipment, money - to enable a sustainable new small business. Glassboro is an NJ opportunity zone that can aid in attracting long-term capital investments for Rowan100 businesses that seek to grow and expand later.

The Rowan100 Initiative was inspired by and is modeled after the work of Dr. Michael Morris, who founded the Urban Poverty and Business Initiative that serves to help the poor start and grow businesses of their own.

Academic References:

  • Morris, M. H., & Tucker, R. (2021). The entrepreneurial mindset and poverty. Journal of Small Business Management, 1-30.
  • Morris, M. H., Santos, S. C., & Neumeyer, X. (2020). Entrepreneurship as a solution to poverty in developed economies. Business Horizons, 63(3), 377-390.
  • Santos, S. C., Neumeyer, X., & Morris, M. H. (2019). Entrepreneurship education in a poverty context: An empowerment perspective. Journal of Small Business Management, 57, 6-32.

Microenterprise references:

  • Micro-enterprises as defined by Investopedia
  • California Association for Micro-Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO)
  • Funds2Orgs (finances and funding for microenterprises) (website)
  • Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida (microenterprises) (website)
  • Micro-Enterprise Assistance, City of Fairfield CT (website)

Stakeholders served

  • Impoverished, underemployed, or financially struggling members of the Glassboro community, who see entrepreneurship as an avenue out of poverty (the 24.4% or some 5,000 persons living at or below the poverty level)
  • Elected public officials of Gloucester County, NJ, where Rowan University resides (County Commissioners)
  • Elected public officials in Glassboro, NJ, where Rowan University resides
  • Rowan University President and Provost

Key Milestones

  • December 2021: gain endorsement from the Dean Rohrer College of Business and any other necessary University stakeholders for approval
  • March 2022: Rowan 100-for-100 Initiative Project Plan completed and briefed to the Glassboro Business Development office (
  • June 2022: Foundational materials for the Rowan 100-for-100 established, including source for initial start grant funding ($12,500)
  • September 2022: Launch of the Rowan 100-for-100 Small Business Initiative
  • December 2022: Phase one training completion for the first 25 Rowan100 graduates
  • March 2023: Phase two (mentoring) completion for Rowan100 graduates

An Innovation Portfolio

  • Project plans
  • Training materials
  • Guides
  • Videos
  • Outcome metrics

Internal notes: Investigate any limitations for home-based business work for any person in NJ receiving public assistance, e.g., unemployment benefits, WIC, etc.