Minding Their Business—and Their Businesses

March, 2005

by Terry Rayno

Plymouth State University’s business department takes the University’s role as a regional university very seriously. At the graduate and the undergraduate levels, students in the program have provided businesses in the state with expert help in many areas.

At the graduate level, the Small Business Institute (SBI) for a number of years has helped area businesses with business plans and other plans targeted to areas such as marketing, systems and growth strategies. At the undergraduate level, the student organization, the American Marketing Association (AMA), has begun an outreach program to help local businesses with their marketing efforts. In fact, one business has asked the group to do its second study in two years.

Last year, the PSU SBI program was honored nationally with the Showcase Award for having the best SBI program in the country. It was just one of many top awards for the program. The Plymouth SBI program has won top national awards for the last six years.

According to Craig Zamzow, director of PSU’s SBI program, “Our program has done well in the national competition since it started. … One of the factors that contributes to our success is the quality of our students. They tend to be older and have had professional, real-world experience in business before they join the program.”

For the second consecutive year, a Plymouth State University SBI team of MBA students took first place in the national SBI case of the year competition. Tom Burton, Julie Findley and John Gobel won for their report for Green Mountain Physical Therapy, of Lebanon, N.H. Kay Donesasorith, Bobby Szymcik, Rob Gillis and Alejandro Henriquez received the fourth place case of the year award for their comprehensive business development plan for Gap Mountain Breads, Bakery and Café located in Troy, N.H.

The SBI program, along with the Small Business Development Center, has a new home in the Meredith Village Savings Bank building, a recent addition to Main Street, Plymouth. The central location will make it even easier for small business owners to find this kind of assistance.

At the undergraduate level, AMA prepared a marketing report for a start-up e-commerce company, ResortScope during Winterim 2004. The company allows owners to list the dates their condominiums are available to rent on an Internet Web site. The site launched in April 2004.

ResortScope’s president, Mark LaClaire of Lincoln, N.H., was so pleased with the students’ work that he donated $1,000 to PSU’s AMA chapter. He also asked the organization to prepare a report that would help tell him where to invest his Internet marketing dollars.

Marketing instructor Lisa Lindgren, AMA’s advisor, tells how five students, led by Brian Waters, AMA vice president, spent Winterim 2005 working on a report that looked at how to improve the site’s ranking on search engine results and where the company should advertise to improve its ranking.

The AMA has had a chapter at Plymouth for more than 20 years, but it recently adopted a new mission to increase its outreach efforts to local businesses. “With the University’s goal of reaching out more to the community, we’ve made an increased effort to work with local businesses and help with their marketing projects,” says Lindgren. “We see the great effects of SBI at the MBA level and we’re trying to have the students experience some of that at the undergraduate level.”

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