ECU Students Win Top Prizes at National Small Business Conference
For the sixth year, student teams from the College of Business at East Carolina University took home top prizes at the National Small Business Institute® (SBI) Conference, Feb. 17-19 in Bonita Springs, Fla.
One student team, which worked with the proposed East Carolina Integrative Clinic, won first place in the undergraduate business plan division. As part of its project, the team consulted with officials from the Brody School of Medicine to explore the feasibility of an integrative health clinic and then developed a corresponding business plan. Another student team earned second place in the undergraduate comprehensive division for its consulting work with Fabricate Too, a Greenville-based women’s clothing boutique located in Arlington Village.
The College of Business has enjoyed a long tradition of winning top honors in the SBI’s Project of the Year Competition. Since 2005, ECU has earned eight finishes in the top three, including four first place winners.
ECU students participate in the competition each year through Michael Harris’ small business management class, which is linked at a national level with the SBI. Harris, who has taught the course for 10 years and directs ECU’s SBI program, teams his senior-level undergraduate students with regional companies in need of assistance as part of a course project. Firms benefit from free business consulting, and students apply lessons they’ve learned in subjects ranging from marketing to accounting. In the end, the student teams deliver a comprehensive consulting document to their respective clients, along with an oral presentation.
In addition to the student awards, Bill McDowell of the Department of Management won best paper award for his work titled “Performance of Historically Underrepresented Firms in the Public-Private Sector.” Harris served as national SBI conference chair for 2011, and officials also announced that Harris, McDowell and Shanan Gibson will assume editorship of the Small Business Institute® Journal, an official journal of the SBI, beginning May 2011.
ECU’s SBI program has assisted more than 500 clients since its inception in 1976. At the national level, the SBI serves as the premier organization dedicated to field-based student consulting and outreach to small businesses. For more information about the SBI, please contact Harris at (252) 737-1057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.