Students Share Ideas for Local Retail
by Howard Hewitt
July 6, 2010
Wabash’s Summer Business Immersion Program shared ideas with Crawfordsville leaders Tuesday on how to get more people excited about shopping locally.
Each summer the Summer Business Immersion students take on a local consulting project and develop a business plan to present to the town’s key leaders. The 15 students looked at ways to launch a shop local campaign. They presented their ideas to several community leaders at the Crawfordsville Community Library.
The students began with a survey of Wabash faculty and staff along with a survey of attendees at the summer’s Strawberry Festival.
“Community is the main motivator we found in those we surveyed,” Scott Hornblower ’12 said after the presentation. “They like events such as Strawberry festival. Crawfordsville people enjoy going to that. There is an intense sense of community, especially in the older generation. They want to see that sense of community come back. They want to see a lot more community events.”
The students broke the presentation down to three areas: visible literature, city, county, and state events, and business incentives. They developed a theme of: “Shop Local, Eat Local, Be Local – We Shop Crawfordsville.”
They shared ideas about literature ranging from the traditional printed flyer to LED-based signs with ever-changing information. The students suggested block parties, car shows, and a Fourth of July Armed Forces parade to draw people downtown.
“Community is something people here are dug in the trenches on,” Hornblower said. “They love that stuff.”
The student incentive-based program would involve a number of customer business cards that had incentives built into frequency of shopping visits to Crawfordsville businesses.
This is the business program wraps up for the students this week. It is part of the Wabash Business Leadership Program. The students do not get College credit for the six week course but they are paid a stipend. Throughout the six weeks they’ve heard from businessmen and entrepreneurs, including several Wabash graduates.
For instructor Jimmy Cruse the presentations are an opportunity to see student growth.
“It’s about progression in terms of watching where they started at the beginning of the summer, when they’re not very good with a PowerPoint presentation and by the end of the summer they’ve done seven or eight presentations,” he said. “They’re a lot more polished, a little more professional at the end of the program.
“They get a lot of business knowledge. At the beginning of the summer it’s kind of like ‘what are all these terms’ and then by the end of the summer they’re actually applying the terms and knowing what they talk about. It’s really big steps from start to finish.”
The fifteen students are divided up into five teams for exercises throughout the program. All five groups will make presentations from 9 a.m.-noon Friday on campus in Trippet 123.
In photos: Top right, Brian David '12 and Jeremy Coons '12 take part in the group presentation. Lower left, President and Mrs. White were among those in attendance. Chris White serves on the Crawfordsville Main Street Board of Directors.