MARHC 16, 2005

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Northwestern's Small Business Institute team wins national award

A team of Northwestern Oklahoma State University students in the university’s Small Business Institute (SBI) program placed second in the nation for the SBI Specialized Case of the Year.

The award was announced during the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship/SBI joint conference recently held in Palm Springs, Calif. Other winners were Seattle University (Wash.), first place, and Sonoma University (Calif.), third.

The Northwestern SBI team consisted of Rhonda Crooms, now of Lakeland, Fla., and Ellen Sprehe and James Standerfer, both of Ponca City. Bill Gregory was the faculty supervisor for the team.

Crooms, Sprehe and Standerfer worked with Residential Copper LLP of Ponca City to develop a catalog of its products as part of its marketing strategy. Residential Copper uses state-of-the-art computer-controlled technology to produce copper architectural accents such as finials and cupolas for luxury homes.

The team’s project earlier had been selected as the 2003 SBI Specialized Case of the Year by the Oklahoma District of the Small Business Administration, which qualified it for the national competition.

Dr. Patti Wilber, Northwestern SBI director, accompanied the SBI team to the conference.

"We have had several state winners since I became director in 1995, but this is the first time that Northwestern has had a national winner,” Wilber said. “The students did an excellent job for this small business owner. I am very proud of them.”

The students first had to learn about the company and become thoroughly familiar with its products and their uses. In order to create the marketing materials, the students had to learn a new software program that the printer used for producing the series of full-color, four-page brochures.

"This was the most complete and intense marketing project I’ve seen an SBA team do,” Wilber said. “They did an excellent job.”

The Small Business Institute is a service offered free of charge by Northwestern to area small business owners. Wilber explained that the SBI can assist in such areas as advertising and marketing, time management, bookkeeping and accounting, inventory management, customer service, personnel handbooks, policy and procedure manuals and web site design.

"The SBI program is a great opportunity for senior-level students to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners in northwest Oklahoma. The client benefits in that a fresh perspective on their business is provided by the student consulting team,” Wilber said.

Contact: Steve Valencia, 1-580-327-8478