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Attending presentations for the Millikin University Institute for Science Entrepreneurship Speaker Series has been thought provoking. The speakers have been showing how entrepreneurship can be applied to science-based applications. While it might not seem like the most glamorous of topics, it encompasses a critical piece of the future not only for the students but Decatur and beyond.

Through what the institute has created, students like sophomore Emily Talbott are encouraged to learn outside of the classroom. Talbott has embraced the concept, seeking out a job with Temmen Advanced Eyecare in Mount Zion. It gives her an idea of what it's really like to go in an exam room. More mentors are needed for students like her, Talbott said. Prior to her experience, Talbott did not feel like she had an idea of how to start a business. But now she can feel her dream of starting her own practice coming closer to reality.

It's the type of jobs that interest students like Talbott that are going to make a difference in the future of Decatur. Much discussion tends to be about what retailers Decatur needs to attract. While that is certainly a piece of the puzzle, it is not the foundation. The future needs to be built upon the innovation shown by creating ventures that turn into mid-tier businesses with good paying jobs. It's those businesses that can lead to the more desireable businesses that really make an area appear vibrant and attractive.

Innovation can happen in many different ways. Some like speaker Cedric Pearce saw an opportunity few others had embraced and ran with it. He has built a successful business, North Carolina-based Mycosynthetix Inc., by finding new uses for fungi. The path to success for Pearce doesn't always seem to have been easy but Pearce figured out what needed to be done both scientifically and as a business owner. It has led to opportunities for him to not only enjoy a successful career but travel on adventures around the world.

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