“I couldn’t hire enough people to do what Business Growth MAP has done for me. Hands-down, it’s one of the best things I’ve done since I opened.”

– Bonnie Brasure
Owner, Bleu Door Bakery

Bonnie Brasure represents one of the 145 organizations and entrepreneurs who have received free business consulting services from students in WSU Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor Analysis Program (MAP) over the past four years. Since launching in 2011, participating companies reported $4.6 million of new revenues and 15 full-time jobs that are directly attributable to the program.

In recognition of that impressive economic impact, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities will recognize the program as a leading example of regional economic development at the annual meeting that starts Sunday.

Business Growth MAP is a prime example of how universities develop quality talent and steward vibrant communities through public-private collaborations – two key indicators of economic development as recently defined by the University Economic Development Association and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Developing work-ready graduates

Business Growth MAP is a capstone class for business students at WSU Vancouver. Divided into teams supported by an instructor and volunteer mentor from Vancouver’s business community, the students conduct analysis of a company’s financial, market and organizational capabilities and create an actionable plan to grow the business. It gives the students an opportunity to apply what they’re learning in the class, thus making them better-prepared employees post graduation. Many of the 600 students who have gone through the program since 2011 graduate with job offers in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. An impressive 90 percent of the 2014/15 student groups felt that the Business Growth MAP exerpience prepared them for the business world.

“My group skills have increased tremendously,” said one student in an evaluation survey. “I feel prepared to work in any group setting in the business world.”

Boosting local economy by helping small businesses grow

The local, small businesses the students are working with also benefit, gaining valuable insight into their companies and steps needed to grow. First-time clients are sometimes surprised by the quality and usefulness of the analysis students develop under the guidance of a professor and Vancouver business mentor. Clients often come back for additional analysis, as their needs business grows and needs change. Their actions demonstrate the value of the program to the business community.

Mike Seely of Seely Family Farm is a client who also became a mentor.

“I learned more about my company than the students did,” Seely said. To hear more about the insights he and his wife gained through MAP, watch the video below.

Seely participated in two semesters of analysis, and now serves as a mentor for the program as well as a member of the Cougar Business Alliance. The Seely Family Farm is growing, bringing new technology to the mint industry, and new jobs to the area.

The regional value of Business Growth MAP is further demonstrated by strong industry partnerships. JP Morgan Chase has been a supporter since day one, and just granted funding to expand the program’s newest initiative: the Business Growth MAP Alliance. Started in fall 2014, the MAP Alliance is a series of monthly forums on topics relevant to small business. The funding from Chase will launch the first sector-specific cohort to help businesses accelerate growth and positively impact the region, a great example of how private companies and public institutions can come together for the economic development of their shared community.

Added bonus: supporting WSU faculty and technology transfer

For the first time this year, the Business Growth MAP teamed up with the Office of Commercialization, offering additional value to the university by assessing the commercial viability of four potential startups from WSU research labs.

Click here to learn more about or get involved with Business Growth MAP.

Click here to learn more about the AASCU awards.