Entrepreneurship is said to accelerate economic growth and Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) plans to become part of that movement as it hosts on May 15 “Ready to Lead,” a statewide entrepreneur leadership conference for women and minorities.

In past years, colleges and universities prepared students for careers working for big companies, but lately, more students are readying themselves for entrepreneurship and starting companies of their own. “Ready to Lead” is geared toward women and minority entrepreneurs.

“We chose to do that because women are the fastest-growing small biz owners in the nation,” LASC Dean Rick Hodge said. “Because of all the independent marketing and outreach women do, entrepreneurship is great new avenue.”

The event, emceed by Dominique DiPrima of KJLH, will include a keynote speech by Compton Mayor Aja Lena Brown and Aleisha Butterfield Jones, founder of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Workshop highlights include the publisher and CEO of OurWeekly, Natalie Cole.

The day-long conference begins with registration at 7:15 a.m., with the keynote beginning at 8:15 with more than 20 different workshops throughout the day and a closing session at 4:20 p.m. For a full list of workshops and speakers, visit www.lasc.edu/women_and_minority_entrepreneur_conference_2015/index.html.

Registration is $67.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of new business establishments (less than one year old) tends to rise and fall with the business cycle of the overall economy. Small businesses account for the vast majority of U.S. job growth in recent years, and California’s 3.5 million small businesses employ more than half of the private sector workforce.

Entrepreneurship is important on a global scale, as well, as evidenced by President Barack Obama’s plans to visit Kenya in July for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

Last summer, Hodge hosted LASC’s first summer business institute for first-year college students. And this year’s event will serve not only as a conference, but as an instrument that may determine the future of LASC’s programming.

“A new initiative that we introduced at the college focuses on all things entrepreneurial,” Hodge added. “Teaching students how to be their own boss and really make a difference with their business in their community.”

LASC has two classes and is now looking to expand eventually to a transferable degree program.

“We have articulation agreements with a lot of universities—CSU, USC, LMU and other local colleges—we want to create pathway programs,” Hodge said. “This [event] is a start for us, so we can see what women entrepreneurs are looking for in training. Then we can develop what they need.”