The Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies was established in 1991 through a gift from community leaders Owen and Erma Smith to what is now the College of Business and Economics at California State East Bay.
Since its inception, the intent of the donors, and the practice of the Smith Center is to provide programs that promote a better understanding of the free market system and limited government under the rule of law among the University community as well as the general public.
In the past year, the Smith Center has evolved to recognize the impact of technological advances combined with entrepreneurial ingenuity, which inevitably move the economy toward market solutions, replacing less efficient arrangements and creating value for businesses and society as a whole. The Smith Center sponsors activities that help the University recognize the changes and opportunities which arise from this process, aiming to be a thought leader on the economy of the future, on-campus and beyond.
In particular, the Smith Center facilitates class projects where students work on real problems faced by Bay Area companies (often start-ups), or identify firms that are pioneering market solutions (for example, as investment prospects). To support these activities, The Smith Center maintains close relationships with businesses and other organizations that promote entrepreneurship on and off-campus. The Smith Center also develops and delivers instructional material and research on market solutions, and participates in various forms in public debates.
In fall 2019, the Smith Center launched a student entrepreneurship club called “Up!,” which will involve students of any major in learning about entrepreneurship. Planned programs this year include mixers, workshops, and presentations geared towards start-ups and students.
Past lectures have included: