Partnership boosts business community

Gary, IN – Regional partnerships provide an additional avenue to create or fortify ties to the community.
The NWI Small Business Development Center continues to work with regional sponsor Indiana University Northwest, specifically the School of Business and Economics, to offer a base for business development.
Anna Rominger, Dean of IUN School of Business and Economics, said these partnerships allow the school to reach out into the community in an aspect beyond education.
“As the regional business school of the IU system, we are dedicated to advancing the quality of life in Northwest Indiana through educational programs, community outreach and strategic engagement with the people, schools, businesses and organizations of this region,” she said. “These partnerships provide more complete business and management information to entrepreneurs and small business owners, which enable them to make more informed strategic business decisions.”
The school and the NWI SBDC have united to offer no-cost educational events, including Branding on a Budget and the SBDC’s core seminar, “Launching Your Own Business: A Sound and Proven Path.”
In the branding workshop, facilitator Subir Bandyopadhyay, PhD, Professor of Marketing at IUN, highlighted the challenges small businesses face in marketing their products and services as well as illustrated how branding is a key avenue to success.
“You need to do your homework first before jumping into an advertising and marketing plan,” he said. “You need to identify your target customers and their needs and the relationship you are seeking with this core group. You can focus your marketing program on one or two key associations.”
Beyond seminars, Rominger said the school’s students provide a general business analysis in their capstone course and the SBDC assists in identifying businesses that would benefit from this service.
NWI SBDC Regional Director Lorri Feldt said each of the regional sponsors has its own unique characteristics that link the SBDC to the community in an innovative way.
“We are fortunate to have created a diverse set of partnerships that extend our offerings and services in new and varied directions,” she said. “We look forward to working with IUN in the future to develop even more opportunities to serve the business community.”
Outside of working with the SBDC, the school seeks to impact the region through additional avenues, including:

•    The school’s Small Business Institute fosters entrepreneurial education by providing small business consulting services using undergraduate business students. Under the supervision of business faculty, the students provide general business analysis. In the past 10 years, the SBI program has served more than 125 local businesses.
•    Annually IU Northwest hosts Money Smart, a free financial fair aimed at teaching people strategies for better money management. Money Smart offers community members of all ages and income levels sound strategies and advice for stretching their dollars, avoiding scams and pitfalls, and investing in a more secure financial future.
•    Each spring, the School of Business and Economics, in conjunction with the IU Northwest Business Alliance, hosts the Business Speaker Series Luncheon, which features notable business personalities or other public figures.
•    Students in upper-level accounting courses are recruited as volunteers, trained by the Internal Revenue Service and supervised by faculty for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which provides income tax assistance for low-income and elderly persons at no charge. In 2011, the IRS recognized the school for its 20 years of outstanding contributions to this public service.
The AACSB-accredited School of Business and Economics offers a Bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in business administration or accounting/financial information systems. The Masters of Business Administration is offered through a weeknight or weekend program. The school also offers certificates in accounting and management.
“Innovative learning programs like the Wall Street on Broadway Trading Floor, which is Northwest Indiana’s only fully simulated stock-trading program, are representative of the kind of hands-on learning and innovative curriculum that takes place in the school,” Rominger said. “To ensure the school stays current with the needs and demands of the professional business world, we have developed the IU Northwest Business Advisory Board, which brings the school together with the business community.
“The school’s faculty members have also used their expertise and research to assist local businesses. As a best practice, they look for ways for students to participate in applied real world projects, where students can apply their knowledge to regional and national industry situations.”
Serving seven counties in the region, the NWI SBDC offers no-cost assistance for entrepreneurs starting or expanding their businesses. Through one-on-one consulting, the NWI SBDC helps guide small businesses toward their goals by offering referrals, workshops, training opportunities and other essential business tools. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Small Business Administration, the State of Indiana and other local partners.
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The IUN School of Business and Economics’ focus areas include teamwork, leadership and technology. Full-time professors teach the majority of business and economics classes, supplemented by business professionals who teach part-time in their respective areas of expertise. Faculty members assist students with internships, jobs, research projects and opportunities for community engagement as well as build connections to provide students with assistance throughout their careers.
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