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Saturday, December 15, 2018

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SDSU Students Help Local Businesses Thrive

Lavin Entrepreneurship Center offers hands-on experience for students and a leg-up to fledging local businesses.
By Sabrina Shahawi

San Diego State University’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center teamed up with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to create a program that gave SDSU business students real world experience helping small local businesses. With the mission “neighborhoods matter” in mind, the two semester program concentrated its efforts in the Greater Logan Heights neighborhood.

The graduate students who lead the program each semester were hand selected and undergraduate students were recruited based on faculty recommendations and their Spanish speaking skills.

The first semester involved one MBA student and two undergraduate business students who developed a market study and micro-entrepreneur training following two community workshop sessions. This interactive process allowed students to work with businesses and identify ways to revitalize and enhance economic opportunities in the mid-city area.

“The LISC program is a perfect example of community and campus coming together for the betterment of our communities at large. As a member of the team, I was able to put into practice the skills I had gained during my time in the SDSU MBA program,” said Alissa Thompson.

One MBA student led five undergraduate business students for the second semester. The team went into the community and worked with the small businesses and area entrepreneurs to help solve real-world problems.

The students’ primary objective was to help as many small businesses as possible grow and thrive throughout a 10-week period. Tasks ranged from obtaining proper permits to improving signage and implementing effective marketing initiatives using social media. The students worked with small businesses such as El Borrego Restaurant, Agua Rica and Palabra Bookstore.

This program gave the students opportunities to see what it’s really like to be in an inner city neighborhood running a small business and perhaps struggling to survive.

“They probably thought they’d have to come up with a complicated strategic marketing plan, but it’s the little things that matter big time to these small micro entrepreneurs. The students saw what it really takes to run a small business in that type of environment,” said Lavin Entrepreneurship Director Bernie Schroeder.

The center is currently talking with LISC and other SDSU affiliates about neighborhood initiative programs for the next academic year.