VSU Announces Opening of J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship

Jessica Pope

Monday, March 13th, 2023

The Valdosta State University community gathered Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration’s new J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship.  

“VSU is committed to making South Georgia better, and the J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship will help us do that,” shared Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “This center will serve as a catalyst for VSU students seeking the knowledge and resources necessary to turn innovative ideas into sustainable businesses. This center will allow VSU students to share their ideas with proven business leaders who will, in turn, provide guidance, direction, access to business software, and the encouragement to pursue their dreams.”   

Under the direction of Dr. Trent Coggins, business law lecturer, entrepreneur, and owner of Recoil Trampoline Park, the J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship will serve as a creative and collaborative hub for students, faculty, and staff across all academic disciplines — the arts, education and human services, nursing and health sciences, humanities and social sciences, math and science, and business. It will bring emerging student entrepreneurs, faculty, staff, and experienced entrepreneurs together to ignite a spirit of innovation and foster connections that extend across the university, the region, and even the world.  

“Entrepreneurs exist all over VSU’s campus,” Coggins said. “Because of this, a goal of the center is to provide support to all VSU students looking to develop their understanding of a successful business model, how to create a business plan, and what to do next once the foundation has been created.”  

VSU’s J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship offers a wide range of resources, technology, equipment, and mentorship needed to unlock the potential of the next startup generation. 

Students have access to the Downing Barber Ideation Room, where concepts and ideas come to life; a green room; a social media and podcast room; a consultation room, where students can form deep connections with on- and off-campus business experts and leaders; and an innovation room equipped with a three-dimensional printer for prototype production. 

Students will also have access to SemRush, a popular SEO (search engine optimization) tool that specializes in keyword research, competitor analysis, and Google Ad campaign optimization.  

A VSU alumnus, Don Lee believed in having respect for other people. He built Lee Container on the principle that everyone associated with his company — customers, employees, suppliers, and distributors — should treat each other as they would want to be treated. He believed in the importance of honesty and pride in a job done well. Among his Lee Container family, he promoted what he called a “can-do” attitude. More than 25 years later, the success of his family-owned business, now a national leader in the packaging industry, shows that the next generation has remained true to these founding principles.   

Carvajal said he hopes the J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship will “forever stand as a testament to the principles Mr. Lee believed in and be the launching point for countless businesses of tomorrow here in South Georgia.” 

The J. Donald Lee Center for Entrepreneurship is located in Pound Hall on VSU’s Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus near the intersection of Patterson Street and Pendleton Drive. Lee earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from VSU in 1957.