Proof is in the Pudding

Business Students Impacting the Region

Chip Chagnon, chairman of the Craven County ABC Board, works with College students who provided a high-level business study for his organization.

At the recent National Small Business Institute® (SBI) Conference, East Carolina University represented very well.

Dr. Michael Harris, Interim Director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, was inducted as a Small Business Institute® Fellow. This honor recognizes many years of service and his long history of SBI® leadership, which includes being the Institute’s president. Under his 17-year leadership, College of Business students have won SBI® awards for the past 12 years.

At the conference, ten COB students walked away as top project winners. The team of Nate Dadosky, Morgan Harvey, Harrison Rosenbaum, Cameron Whitaker and Ben Worthington won first place in the Undergraduate Specialized Division.

The other team of Kevin Coughlin, Paige Harrison, Matt Hooks, Grey Johnson and Kaitlin Quinn took first place in the Undergraduate Comprehensive Division for their work with the Craven County ABC Board. The organization turned to the College’s Small Business Institute to help them with issues, according to Board Chairman Chip Chagnon, that plagued his organization for years.

“We got a call from Chip and based on his needs, we put together a team that was well-suited to meet the needs of the Craven County ABC Board,” said Harris.

After meeting with Chagnon and his team, the ECU SBI student team provided an integrated, high-level business study with recommendations that focused on professional development, strategic planning and a marketing strategy. In particular, they analyzed near term multi-million dollar building projects and location selection, as well as efficient external and interior store design.

Impacting, Transforming the Region

According to Chagnon, the study results had an immediate effect at several levels.

“Since the study, we have increased our profit-to-expense ratio. We have instituted many of the marketing recommendations and increased sales last fiscal year by three percent, more than $300,000.”

And the study is continuing to have an impact. Chagnon said the Board is doing due diligence on a study-recommended site for a new complex, which will house a retail store, administrative offices and a warehouse.  A second store is also being investigated.

“The ECU SBI study was instrumental in providing direction and purpose,” said Chagnon. “The rendered report was of the professional level expected; not expected from undergraduates, but rather by MBA-level students. The report displayed many high-order business recommendations expected from writers who had many years of business experience; that were highly knowledgeable of North Carolina ABC operations and highly skilled in marketing.”

“The students were professional in demeanor and presentations. They were highly interested in our issues and a pleasure to work with. They represented the very best of ECU.”

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