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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Strome Open4Business Program Aims to Aid Economic Recovery and Better Prepare Students to Enter a Tight Labor Market

By Jazmin T. Elliott

As part of its contribution to the economic recovery, Old Dominion University's Strome College of Business has launched the Strome Open4Business program.

Local companies and nonprofits can now sign up to take advantage of faculty-led student projects in a variety of areas, such as digital marketing, selling to the government, exporting and finance. The program can accommodate more than 100 organizations.

College Dean Jeff Tanner calls the program "a triple win."

"Our students will be better prepared for the tight labor market, individual companies and nonprofits will benefit with actionable strategies, and our region will accelerate economic regrowth," he said.

The Open4Business program is important to Professor Josh Steinfeld, director of Strome's Public Procurement and Contract Management certificate program, because he wants to "contribute to those we depend on - the Hampton Roads workforce - probably the most skilled in the country. My experience in contracts and procurement involves entering new arenas, starting small and then becoming successful with others."

That experience will benefit companies looking to enter the government market.

Michelle Carpenter, marketing senior lecturer, and her students have been helping companies grow their businesses for a while.

"During the past five years, I have helped facilitate marketing projects with organizations including Dollar Bank, Radical Skin Care and the Society of American Military Engineers," she said. "Businesses are given a variety of fresh ideas from an outside perspective that they can use immediately to help their business grow."

Accounting Professor Tiger Shim feels the same way.

"Some of our best and brightest students may be able to come up with fresh, out-of-the-box ideas to improve the entities' operations," he said.

Professor Marina Saitgalina is working with her students to help Hampton Roads nonprofits emerge from the crisis.

"I am committed to linking the academic world to the world of practitioners by engaging students in active learning in solving community challenges and by conducting research that directly benefits the public," she said.

Projects range from creating marketing plans, developing social media strategies, building business plans, conducting market research studies for exporting or market expansion, and financial analysis.

Open4Business should also help the Hampton Roads area grow and retain talent. Faculty are unanimous in their agreement that students learn more from such experiences.

"Each project has had the same end result - students are more engaged and because they are vested in the project, they deliver a higher quality presentation and apply what they are learning in the classroom," Carpenter said.

But there's also the benefit that these students help future employers grow, connect and get job opportunities, and build a portfolio of experiences that adds to the value they can bring.

"This is truly a win for our region, for our local businesses and for our students," Tanner said.

For more information, go to this site.

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