The University of St. Thomas Community Entrepreneurship Program – offered in conjunction with the Opus College of Business, Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Center – was recently highlighted by Star Tribune columnist Jennifer Brooks for its impact on the local business community while providing hands-on learning for students.
From the story:
The beauty of the program is that everybody wins. The entrepreneurs gain knowledge, skills, connections and student consultants. The community gains new businesses to fill our neighborhoods with delicious spices and shiny new bicycles.
For the students, it's the difference between learning about market research and actually doing market research.
One of the entrepreneurs is trying to break into the luxury soap market. So students fanned out across the cities, visiting local Patina stores and neighborhood gift shops, talking to buyers about what they're looking for in fancy gift soaps, how much they pay, what it would take for a new product to stand out from the crowd.
"Entrepreneurship is all about learning," said Laura Dunham, dean of the university's Opus College of Business, who helped launch the program. "No one is going to hand you a manual."
The program is geared toward entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities – minorities, women, people working to build up neighborhoods torn down by highway projects, racist zoning, and decades of redlining that destroyed generational wealth.