WKU’s entrepreneurship program is taking to the streets in an effort to revitalize downtown businesses on Bowling Green’s Fountain Square.
Students in Entrepreneurship 496: Small Business Analysis & Strategy have formed nine consulting groups to work with nine businesses that are part of the Fountain Square Business Association.
“The students will be developing strategic plans for each business and will be compiling a comprehensive study and report for the business owners,” said Dr. Wil Clouse, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Mattie Newman Ford Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Gordon Ford College of Business.
“As an applied college of business,” Dean Jeff Katz said, “providing real-world learning opportunities for our students is an important part of our mission. We are delighted to have local business owners interacting with our students. Through their collaboration, we hope to enhance the economic well-being of our region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
In mid-March, the students visited each store to get an idea of its products, culture and service, then began developing a plan for an in-depth study of the business. Their work is based on “The Santa Fe Effect,” an entrepreneurial case study co-authored by Dr. Clouse that examines efforts to revitalize downtown areas in cities that have seen businesses move to interstate areas.
“The goal is to come up with a plan on how to drive more business downtown to support small companies,” Dr. Clouse said. “We want students to know what is downtown and to understand what it takes to grow businesses downtown.”
The students are working with Candle Makers on the Square, Dollar Brothers Shoes, Morris Jewelry, Meo’s Collection, Barbara Stewart Interiors, Zingarella, United Furniture and Appliance, John Norman McDonald Photography and Tea Squares.
“The business people downtown know us and they are interested in seeing our program and the Gordon Ford College of Business move from the hallways of Grise Hall in a way that connects learning with real-world, authentic experiences,” Dr. Clouse said.
Michael Barron, owner of Morris Jewelry, agreed. “I hope that this opportunity to work directly with small business owners will serve as a great practical, hands-on learning experience for WKU students,” he said. “Small business owners are true entrepreneurs who take all the risks associated with their venture, with no guarantees of success. This experience will teach budding WKU-educated entrepreneurs about the challenges, joys and rewards of small business as no classroom can.”
Contact: Wil Clouse, (270) 745-5325.