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Walsh College Celebrates Global Entrepreneur Week

TROY (WWJ) -- Successful entrepreneurship will be the key focus when experts within the investor and entrepreneur communities join Walsh College president and CEO Stephanie Bergeron and members of Walsh College's Blackstone LaunchPad team for Walsh College's Walshpreneur Fair in November.

The business school is inviting the public to the college's Troy campus on Monday, Nov. 18 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. to attend the annual event commemorating Global Entrepreneur Week.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the Blackstone LaunchPad program, which celebrates entrepreneurship as a career path; and gain insight on starting and maintaining a viable business from talented and experienced entrepreneurs. Products and services from Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurs will also be showcased. The evening will include networking opportunities, refreshments and prizes.

"We're opening our campus to the community to help take the mystery out of entrepreneurship," said Carol Glynn, Walsh College director of Blackstone LaunchPad. "The entrepreneurial spirit is on fire in our state and this celebration is an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to learn from some of the best."

Joining Bergeron as special guest speakers will be Larry Gardner, president of the consulting firm Lawrence Gardner Associates, and Vince Thomas, founder and chairman of Billhighway.

Specializing in loan structuring and workouts, cash management applications, private debt placement, company valuations and strategic planning, Gardner established his consulting firm in 1982 in Troy. A former president of First Citizens Bank, he was also a partner in Gardner Taylor Associates, a financial and managerial consulting firm. Gardner's prior positions include strategic planning officer at Citicorp, New York; account officer for multinational lending at Citicorp, Ecuador; and head of the national division and representative to the Chrysler Corp. loan restructuring for City National Bank.

An advocate of Walsh College, Gardner previously served as an adjunct lecturer in management at the business college and was a member of its advisory committee for the master's of science degree in finance program. Gardner also devotes considerable time serving as a venture coach through the Michigan Blackstone LaunchPad programs.

Providing cloud-based financial management solutions tailor-made for nonprofit, donor, and member-based organizations, Thomas developed his company in 1999 while in college at Eastern Michigan as a way to help manage finances among his roommates. Since that time Billhighway has managed nearly $2 billion in transactions for more than 3,500 clients.

In 2011 Thomas was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and honored with the Crain's Detroit Business Magazine Forty under Forty Award. Under his leadership, Billhighway was able to obtain a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Mega Award for tax credits totaling $1.1 million.

Thomas is active in the business start-up and nonprofit communities, volunteering his time as a mentor helping create businesses and jobs; and assisting organizations focused on providing services to children and veterans.

Those interested in attending Walshpreneur Fair should contact Diane Fisher at (248) 823-1670 or Online registration is available at

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