This is an archived article.

June 5, 2001

Students assist inner-city businesses during toughening economic times

At a time when many small businesses are beginning to feel the sting of the slowing economy, more than 60 University of Washington business students have helped several Seattle inner-city and Yakima Valley small businesses expand, develop and increase profits.

Students enrolled in the UW Business and Economic Development program helped 18 business owners with technology, management, marketing and strategy issues.

Their efforts will be celebrated Thursday at the UW Business and Economic Development program’s sixth annual Report to the Community Luncheon at noon at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1522 14th Ave. in the Central Area. More than 150 people are expected to attend.

“We’re proud to have been helping these businesses as they are threatened by the economic downturn,” said Michael Verchot, program director. “Inner-city and rural businesses are often the first ones to suffer during bad economic times.”

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, business and individual filings are at their highest first-quarter level ever, with bankruptcy filings up nearly 18 percent from the first quarter level of last year.

Among the projects students worked on during the 2000-01 academic year were: developing a marketing plan for a new food product by Central Area restaurant Thompson’s Point of View; creating a new advertising strategy for Bracy Auto Body in the Ranier Valley, helping launch the Central Area’s Catfish Corner’s signature tarter sauce through the creation of a Web site and in-store promotions; and developing a plan for the Yakama Indian Nation’s Forest Product Enterprises to increase pine lumber distribution.

Along with announcing accomplishments, program leaders will unveil their goal to attain a $1 million endowment for the program. So far, supporters have donated $325,000.

“The endowment means that this program will be around regardless of the economic climate,” Verchot said.

The Business and Economic Development Program, an arm of the UW Business School, has assisted more than 90 business owners since 1995, while providing 300 business students with real-world experience.
Along with free consulting, the program also provided 12 scholarships to inner-city business owners to take UW executive education courses and held quarterly seminars on such topics as e-business, cost effective sales strategies and tax assistance for small businesses.

The luncheon will feature remarks by Yash Gupta, UW Business School dean, as well as comments from two Seattle-area business owners who have benefited from the program — Tanya Jamale, president and chief operating officer of Jamale Technical Services in the Central Area, and Frank Valenzuela, president and chief operating officer of Shedd’s AC Tools in Southeast Seattle.
Plans to raise money to provide six UW Business School scholarships for minority students also will be announced at the luncheon.

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For more information, contact Verchot at (206) 543-9327 or mverchot@u.washington.edu.