Issue: October 2007 Issue
How to leverage your local university for business and economic development
Fall means back to class, but students aren't the only ones who should consider heading back to school. According to Dr. Patricia Book of Kent State University's Division of Regional Development, area businesses might want to turn to a local university to bolster their business plans and secure the grounding for success and growth.
"Businesses don't always think of their local university as a resource, but we thrive as the region thrives, so we support business here to keep it healthy and growing," Book says.
Kent State can help businesses first and foremost by developing talent through degree and training programs, Book says. The university offers various technical associate, bachelor's and graduate degrees to prepare students for citizenship and professional careers, as well as becoming highly trained scientists pushing the frontiers of knowledge.
Companies can work with the university to help employees earn degrees. "In our division, we strive to make degrees more accessible to adult learners," Book says. "For example, we offer courses in the evening and on weekends, at locations convenient to students' work or home, as well as online. We also have accelerated programs so adult learners can complete a degree more quickly, given their busy schedules."
With seven regional campuses in addition to the Kent location, the university is in a unique position to help companies all across the region. "All the campuses are able to provide talent-development programs, including degrees and customized education and training for businesses," Book says.
In addition to educating a work force, the university can collaborate with businesses to bring innovation to market. "Kent State has a strong track record in technology transfer, where faculty innovations and research are licensed to companies or spun off into business enterprises," Book says. "As a public research university, this role in research and development is part of what makes us an engine for economic growth."
Book also urges companies to come to Kent State with issues that may need technical or advanced scientific support. "If a company has a technical problem to solve or innovation to test, we can match them with faculty expertise that can, for example, build a prototype of their product or provide an analysis to help solve a problem."
The university also offers customized programs to help organizations improve internal management and business planning. Kent State has a number of small-business development centers that help companies design business plans, work on human resource development and create marketing plans.
The faculty at Kent State understands the importance of its role in spurring regional development. "There are no great regional economies in the United States that have developed without a very strong public research university presence," Book says. "We're a strong participant in the economic development of Northeast Ohio. It's a win-win for everyone."
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