students at Black Hills State University are using concepts learned in their classes to help the community by working with local businesses.
The fall section of the Retail Management class was split up into groups at the beginning of the semester – each choosing from a list of local businesses that have reached out to BHSU professors for retail and marketing consulting.
Concepts from marketing research and analysis, social media and website content creation, competitor analysis, graphic design, and more have been integrated into the projects.
One of the groups, led by Bianca Hutzler, an international student from Germany, is working with a Rapid City business called Fork Real Community Café
. The café recently opened their doors in the downtown sector of Rapid City earlier this month.
Rhonda Pearcy, founder of the café, has a passion for bringing people together for more than just food – and that was her main inspiration when coming up with the concept of Fork Real. The restaurant emphasizes the importance of community, while also providing a nutritious meal and offering pay-as-you-can options for those who may not be able to afford a meal.
The first of its kind in the state, one of the organization’s main concerns was that people wouldn’t know or understand what a pay-as-you-can café is. The team of five BHSU students set to the task of helping Fork Real.
BHSU students Bianca Hutzler, Elliott Anderson, Becca Golliher, Mikkayla DeBolt, and Yearan Kang strategized throughout the semester, applying what they learned in class and preparing both a 20-minute presentation and 30-page plan in order to provide insights and suggestions for Pearcy to implement.
Hutzler says, “The real life application of this class has given us a way to relate what we’re learning in class to a real business, while also building relationships within the community and the university. We’ve been so overjoyed to contribute to the amazing business concept that Rhonda is so committed to, and can’t wait to see their success into the future!”
As the students worked throughout the semester, they periodically met with the business owners and their professor, Dr. Wei Song, alongside their regular class schedule. As they encountered challenges or changes, they were able to discuss and address them with their professor in order to further their learning.
Golliher, a business administration-marketing major from Rapid City, says there’s no doubt that local business owners have a passion for what they’re selling – and the fresh ideas from marketing and management students can complement the business owners’ ideas.
“We can offer a unique outside perspective,” says Golliher. “The results are two-fold – we’re able to solidify concepts that we’re learning in classes by helping real businesses in the local community, and the community is inviting us to help them strengthen their amazing concepts and allowing us to form professional and personal relationships that could last a lifetime.”
Other teams in the class have focused on other local businesses, including Spearfish Creek Wine Bar, Pink 629, Ventana,
Additional community members were also invited to the in-class presentations Nov. 13 and 15 to provide feedback and suggestions.
About the Business Program at BHSU:
The Business school at BHSU is AACSB accredited
, representing the top 5% of the world’s business programs worldwide. This accreditation ensures that the business program has passed rigorous standards for quality, and that graduates are highly skilled and more desirable to employers than those who attend non-accredited schools. Business Administration majors are invited to choose from a variety of major specializations or minors:
accounting, economics and finance, entrepreneurial studies, human resource management, management, marketing, tourism and hospitality management, professional accountancy, business education, military science, or management information systems. BHSU has many business-related clubs, organizations, and associations that offer additional out-of-class opportunities for all majors.