Date: May 7, 2009
Brian Cottam, Associate Director
Southern Utah University Office of Regional Services
CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University’s Business Resource Center has a new Main Street home that university administrators hope will make the organization’s services and resources more visible in the region.
In cooperation with SUU Regional Services, the Business Resource Center will sponsor the grand opening of its new building at 77 N. Main St., Cedar City, on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A ribbon‐cutting ceremony featuring SUU President Michael T. Benson and Mayor Gerald R. Sherratt is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served. The new location is just north of Wells Fargo Bank’s downtown branch in the space previously occupied by Mountain West Books. Previously, the Business Resource Center was located on the top floor of SUU’s Dixie Leavitt Business Building.
Wesley Curtis, SUU’s Vice President for Government Relations and Regional Services, said the center is a “one‐stop shopping center for business support. Whether you want to start a business, secure financing, learn how to create a business plan, or need help with accounting, advertising, marketing, copyright issues or patents, the BRC can help. And best of all, it’s free.” Craig Isom, Professional‐in‐Residence on the SUU School of Business faculty, serves as the center’s director. He said moving to the new facility will involve the same partners, but it will expand the BRC’s outreach significantly.
“We’ve been providing services for years, but our center has been one of the best‐kept secrets in town,” Isom said. “One of the reasons we’re moving to this new location is to get out there where people can see us and learn what we have to offer.”
Funding for new location came from a Legislative allocation last year. “We hope that the funding will continue in the future,” Isom said. He described the center as “very much a hybrid organization. We want to provide as many services as possible under one roof.”
BRC partners include the following:
Other partners exist throughout Southern Utah, including the Utah State University Extension Service in Panguitch, Beaver County Economic Development in Beaver, and the Kanab City Chamber of Commerce.
“This is the base for all satellite operations to help businesses grow and go,” Isom said. The overall aim, he said, is “to coordinate and marshal all of these resources and get as close as possible to a one‐stop shopping opportunity for people looking for services as they seek business opportunities.”
Such service might take several forms — from counseling to training to networking. “Whatever a fledgling or existing business might need to succeed, we aim to provide it,” Isom said. The center’s programs provide real‐world application and service‐learning for university students as well, Isom said.
The SUU School of Business, with instructor assistance from the BRC, will offer a limitedenrollment entrepreneurship class this fall in which people attending will receive $5,000 in seed money to start a business. The goal is to help students get “hands‐on” experience in starting and running a business, and writing a business plan, all while receiving core instruction in marketing, finance and management.
Isom described the program as “junior achievement on steroids.”
For the School of Business, one of the appeals is being involved is the center’s practice of deputizing students and creating service‐learning opportunities that allow students to apply what they’re learning in class to the real world.
For example, a graduate class in strategic management met with clients in teams during the Spring 2009 semester to evaluate their businesses, assess relative strengths and weaknesses, and offer recommendations. The students’ findings were presented in term papers, for which the students received classroom credit, while the clients received an invaluable free service.
“The student gets credit; the client gets the benefit of what the graduate students have learned,” Isom said. “Everybody wins.”
The BRC’s focus is not solely new businesses, Isom said.
“We’re trying to help businesses that have survived over the years through sweat equity and trialand‐ error,” he said. “We want to help them all we can.”
Obviously, an important part of the BRC’s focus is to expand the outreach of the university as part of SUU Regional Services’ mission.
“President Benson was given a charge by the Regents to reach out to our regional constituencies and be active in supporting them with the resources of a state institution,” Curtis said. “This is one of the ways we’re doing that.”
Isom said Curtis and Regional Services have played a significant role in that outreach. “For years, we have worked under the direction of the School of Business, but Regional Services has helped us to focus our efforts in rural outreach and find resources to help the university’s constituents who aren’t right here in town,” Isom said.
He said the approach makes sense when one considers that, although the Wasatch Front represents the majority of Utah’s people and businesses, a huge circle of rural people surrounds them, and for the most part, that circle has not been served to an equal extent.
“We have a lot of smart people who can run successful businesses if they get the support they need,” he said. “We can do the same for rural Utah as has been done for urban Utah. Outreach is a big challenge, but we’re up to it.”
As an example, he pointed to the Business Resource Center’s monthly entrepreneurship forum that has been a great success in Kanab over the past 18 months.
The concept behind the Business Resource Center continues to evolve, Isom said, but in a perfect world, it will also ultimately serve as “incubator space” for fledgling businesses that would share infrastructure and basic services.
“It’s not a new concept,” Isom said. “It has worked well in Silicon Valley, in Austin, and in Boston.” Isom is assisted at the BRC by Joni Anderson and Cameron Findlay. Interested parties can call the center at 435.865.7707 or contact Isom directly at firstname.lastname@example.org