LaunchNET makes move to University Library

Deborah Hoover, the president of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation (left), Julie Messing, the executive director of NeoLaunchNET (center) and Ken Burhanna, the interim dean of University Libraries, cut the ribbon for the new LaunchNET offices on Sept. 29, 2017.

Taylor Robinson

LaunchNET celebrated its move from the Student Center to the University Library with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

LaunchNET, an innovative hub that serves students, faculty and staff to create new ventures through advising, mentoring and workshops, was previously housed outside the bookstore in the Student Center. As the program has grown, it moved to the second floor of the University Library this fall.

“LaunchNET is best placed in a hot spot on campus,” said Deborah Hoover, the president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, a partner of LaunchNET. “For its initial years, that hot spot was the Student Center. The fishbowl office worked well to attract the aspiring entrepreneur, the change-maker, the doer, the dreamer, to drop in and test an idea. We’re confident that the new LaunchNET space will allow the program to grow and expand in important ways.”

The library was chosen as the best place for LaunchNET because of its shared vision and frequent partnership.

Kenneth Burhanna, the interim dean of University Libraries, said the libraries have a mission to provide students, staff and community with opportunities for success.

“From the very moment LaunchNET came into existence, we became deep collaborative partners,” Burhanna said. “Libraries and LaunchNET have been working together almost since the word ‘go.'”

Julie Messing, the executive director of LaunchNET, called the space a hub for opportunity.

“A hub where clients can explore opportunities, create new ventures, receive advising and mentoring, attend an assortment of workshops and connect to resources across our vast region,” Messing said.

LaunchNET has worked with more than 1,600 clients on about 1,200 ventures. 

Melody Tankersley, the senior associate provost, said the new space in the library provides LaunchNET with much-needed elbow room and flexibility.

“LaunchNET really does embody and actually promotes the very things that make us really undeniably Kent State, as a university,” Tankersley said. “It’s about working across disciplines. It’s about being creative, being collaborative, being entrepreneurial thinking, being innovative, being design focus. As Kent State looks at who we are and where we’re going, all those words play an important role in the fabric in the Kent State we are and continue to be and even expand.”

LaunchNET is open to everyone, regardless of field of study. Hoover said it stretches across campus and has a culture of openness.

Rasheda Brannon, a LaunchNET client, said the program pushed her out of her comfort zone, and shows care for her as well as her business. 

“While our physical space, is vibrant and filled with enough energy and enthusiasm to power this entire 12-story building, it is much more than the physical space alone,” Messing said. “It is a setting. It’s a setting where students can safely and confidentially receive guidance to transform their ideas into thriving business, successful projects or innovative collaborations.”

Taylor Robinson is the libraries reporter. Contact her at [email protected]