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Small Business Development Team Places First in Nation
Wednesday, February 26, 2003 12:00:00 AM - Monroe Ohio
For the second consecutive year, a team of Miami University Oxford students working in conjunction with the Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce has won first place in national competition over teams from 500 universities in the national Small Business Institute program.

Student teams in Dr. Michael Broida’s Small Business Institute design plans and serve as consultants to help a local business meet a specific need as a class project. The business then uses the student plan to improve its business practices. At the end of the class, each team submits its project to local judging. Winners progress to the state and national levels with a single winner chosen by the national Small Business Institute. The awards at every level are high honors and valuable resume entries for the students involved.

Laura Holbert, Chris Jackson, Beth Twaits and Vineet Sechsaria, students in Dr. Broida’s undergraduate capstone class, worked with the Puzzle of Light musical group to develop a marketing plan to market Puzzle as a performing group and to market their recordings. The student plan won the Miami University and regional competitions and joined the other seven finalists in national competition. The top team in the nation was announced on February 14.

Puzzle of Light, a jazz, classical and world music group, performed at the Downtown Middletown Partnership’s “Raze the Roof” celebration in August, 2001. It was one of Puzzle’s last stops before beginning a national tour which included a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The trio members Michael Bashaw, Sandy Kreitzer and BobThompson, also were commissioned to compose, perform, and record music for Falling Water, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania.

Band leader Michael Bashaw is nationally known for his "sound sculptures." The band made musical instruments ranging up to seven feet tall. The group has been known to make musical instruments from rocks, metal, lawn furniture, fence posts, almost anything. They will be performing locally at the Aullwood Audubon Center on March 8. The group can be reached at puzzlight@aol.com.

The Small Business Development Center at the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce, has matched local businesses with student teams for five years with at least one of the teams winning awards for its work each year. In 2002, the students producing a marketing plan for the PS Group of Franklin were also named the top team in the nation.

The Small Business Development Center, housed in the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce on Central Avenue in Middletown, provides free services to start-up and developing small businesses in the area. When a client comes to the SBDC for market development or other business assistance, Craig Maynard, Director, helps them locate the free or low-cost services they need including small business loans. SBDC services are also available at the Mid-Miami Valley's satellite center at the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce through Bill Canull.

According to Maynard, “The success of these teams shows the benefit of good partnerships working together. Ultimately this team work involves the Small Business Development Center, Miami University, the Small Business Administration, the Ohio Department of Development, Professor Broida, and most importantly, the students. A lot of other organizations could learn from these students' example."

Maynard is particularly interested in the projects since he is a former student of Dr. Broida’s and also won competition at Miami University and at the state level.

Story Submitted by Ann Mort
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