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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - At an Irish Channel brew company, a glass of beer is a study in entrepreneurship.

Dozens of students from top business schools around the country toured NOLA Brewery Sunday afternoon, part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, which begins today and ends Friday,

'That movement and that community and that kind of sense of something's possible here that might not be possible anywhere else is pretty inspiring and captivating,' said Sara Thomas, a California native who has not missed an Entrepreneur Week since it began four years ago.

Through Entrepreneur Week, business students helped NOLA Brewery expand last year.

'We were trying to get to the next level and we just needed the resources and know-how to do it,' said Dylan Lintern, Vice-President of NOLA Brewery.

This year, students are once again spending their spring break guiding local entrepreneurs.

But they're only part of the week's innovative gumbo. Companies like Google and representatives from the White House will be in the mix as well, drawn to a city Forbes' named the #1 brain magnet in America.

Idea Village is the hub, the place where the majority of events and workshops will take place.

'This is a place where we help you with that big idea,' said Tim Williamson, co-founder and CEO of Idea Village.

The 12-year-old company is one of the forces behind the what Williamson calls the city's 'entrepreneurial renaissance.' It gives entrepreneurs free consulting and resources.

'We're a catalyst but what we really are is a community,' said Williamson. 'This isn't just Idea Village, this is a local and national network of partners collaborating and working together.'

Williamson is quick to point out that Entrepreneur Week is the culmination of months of work. Williamson says the week wraps up an 'entrepreneur season.'

'If we can have a Mardi Gras season, if we can have a Saints season, if we can collaborate around that, why not collaborate around entrepreneurship?' Williamson asked.

Every July, entrepreneurs pitch ideas to Idea Village. Last year, Idea Village chose to work with 504 of 1,600 entrepreneurs who applied. Of those, 58 will compete for tens of thousands of dollars in grants during Entrepreneur Week.

ChapterSpot is one of them. The web program is aimed at helping Greek organizations collect dues, keep records and communicate with members. Co-founder Joe McMenemon said the post-Katrina environment is rich with entrepreneurial opportunity.

'I was here right after Katrina and you could definitely sense that there was a sense of everyone's on the same team and building together and I think that's what really helps this movement,' said McMenemon.

Dan Ettinger is part of the team this week aimed at bringing ChapterSpot to the next level. He is a first-year MBA student at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business.

'The reality set in for me last night hearing that six years ago, everything was closed here, that the city is really a city of entrepreneurship, and that everyone is an entrepreneur and they really had to start from scratch,' Ettinger said. 'There's a sense of resiliency and community and kind of stubborn confidence that makes New Orleans so unique.'

Entrepreneur Week is the city's chance to show how far its come and how a unique culture that fosters entrepreneurship can push it into the future.

Workshops are free and open to the public. Slots were still available as of publication. You can register at http://ideavillage.org/.

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