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WSU Economic Impact Business Development

Student interns help small business exporting

Guest Post from Hope Tinney with the Small Business Development Centers

Torklift International, an industry leader in after-market upgrades and accessories for truck campers, caravans and other recreational vehicles, has been selling its made-in-Washington products to camping enthusiasts around the world for decades.

For the most part, though, international customers were going online or working through an authorized dealer to buy tow bars, hitches, turnbuckles, truss extensions, tie-downs and other hardware, which meant the single-item shipping costs were high and the delivery time could be weeks, if not months.

With a relatively large and growing customer base in Australia, the family-run, Kent-based company started wondering if the customer demand could support a distribution center Down Under. » More …

Hands-on learning that helps business community thrive

“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. » More …

Supporting rural entrepreneurship by bringing communities together

Bob Stevens at P2P

One of Bob Stevens’ favorite things about owning a business is helping high school students through their first job interviews.

“They are scared, but rapt with attention,” said Stevens, who owns and founded Northwest Applied Marine in Chewelah, Wash. “You can see that they really want to learn something.”

In 10-years as a resident of Chewelah – population 2600 – Stevens has seen manufacturing companies come and go partially due to a lack of talented local workforce, a trend which is also happening nationwide. When Stevens launched Northwest Applied Marine in 2010, he experienced his own need for a talented workforce, and turned it into an opportunity to offer more vocational training to Chewelah students. Currently, he has five high school interns.

“Pretty much the only job opportunity in town is Subway or Zips fast food,” Stevens said. “The students I work with are intelligent and very capable; they need opportunities outside of home and school to learn.”

» More …