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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 22, 2012) – Students in the University of Central Missouri’s Integrative Business Experience program reached a milestone during the fall 2011 semester as they exceeded $200,000 in funds raised and 14,000 hours in community service provided for area not-for-profit agencies and the surrounding community.
Since the program was launched in the spring of 2004, more than 900 UCM students have enrolled in the course. Developed as a part of the curriculum of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, it offers students an opportunity to work as a team, forming a company that must develop a product, obtain bank funding for its production, and market the product for profit, all the scope of one 16-week college semester.
The numbers tell the story of the impact on the local community. Since 2004, 41 teams student-led companies, comprised of a total of 900 IBE students, have generated gross revenues of $378,310, generating $208,410 in profits that have been distributed to 27 agencies that span a broad spectrum of services provided to diverse segments of the community. In the process, the companies have obtained and repaid bank loans totaling $100,475.
Students who complete the IBE experience are encouraged to give more than they receive. Each IBE student company designates a not-for-profit organization at the beginning of the semester to receive the benefits of its entrepreneurial efforts. Throughout that semester, the members of each company focus not only on developing and selling a product for profit, but also giving their time in a variety of ways to the agencies they have selected by designing and implementing community service projects that will have a lasting effect on the community.
Throughout the years, the products have varied, from the bobblehead version of the UCM mascot, Mo the Mule, to the all-time top producer, a folding camp chair emblazoned with the UCM logo produced and marketed by a team named “Chairs that Care.” A favorite product is the custom-designed t-shirt. Each company is required to do preliminary market research when developing a product to determine if it will sell, and the companies work with UCM professional staff in the areas of licensing, retail marketing and publicity.
The community service projects also vary widely, from physical labor provided to improve the local adult abuse shelter, to renovating a trailer to be used by the local chapter of the American Red Cross for disaster relief. Another group partnered with a metropolitan Kansas City area group, Project Warmth, to provide coats for those in need.
Larry Michaelsen, professor of management in UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, brought the program to UCM in 2003 to provide students with the hands-on experience needed to fully understand the entrepreneurial process. Michaelsen and a team of faculty member from the Harmon College now oversee the program.
“This kind of experience is key to understanding that success in business is more than just profit,” Michaelsen said. “It’s an invaluable experience to complete the market research for your product and to actually have to make your case to a banker to obtain the funds needed to proceed – we know that. But a tremendous added benefit of the IBE experience is teaching our students that their contributions to the community as a whole are part of the responsibility inherent in being a successful business owner.”
Learn more about UCM’s Integrative Business Experience at www.ucmo.edu/ibe.