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The Hub City Cooperative and the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce a collaborative initiative that is benefiting students, faculty, Co-op investors, local farmers, and the community-at-large.

“In addition to preparing our graduates to enter and succeed in a variety of business careers in an expanding global environment, the Johnson College also seeks to provide pre-start-up and incubation support of small business,” said Dr. Frank Rudisill, interim dean of the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics. “We welcome the Hub City Cooperative to The George and look forward to the opportunities this collaboration offers to our students, the Co-op and the local economy.”

Business incubators are programs designed to support the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. A business incubator’s main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding. These incubator graduates have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize new technologies, and strengthen local and national economies.

“The Hub City Cooperative is a natural fit to use incubator space at The George:  the Co-op is a community-wide new business and the incubator was created to provide a supportive home for emerging and growing businesses,” said Erin Ouzts, Hub City Cooperative Start-Up Board Chair. “The George and the Co-op also have complimentary missions of building and strengthening the foundations for long-term success of the Upstate economy.”

The Co-op has office space in The George while its future home, a 7,800-square-foot building located just across the street, is being renovated. The community-owned grocery market will support the community by focusing on wholesome, natural and regionally sourced foods and grocery items in a warm, friendly environment. As the building is refurbished, plans call for 5,000-square feet to be used for retail space, cafe-deli, salad bar, and coffee areas.

“The office space in The George gives the Co-op a central gathering spot that just happens to be across the street from the store site,” said Ouzts. “There is ample meeting space for all committees plus the student and faculty interaction is invaluable.”

Dr. Alan Duesterhaus, instructor of nonprofit leadership at the Johnson College of Business and Economics, teaches management, marketing, and nonprofit leadership classes. Three of his classes spent the fall semester working on marketing plans for the Hub City Co op. Two Principals of Marketing classes worked on campaigns; one focused on creating an awareness campaign of Co ops in general and the other created an opening campaign to generate buzz once the organization is ready to open its doors to the public. The Marketing Communications class created a campaign that focuses on the renovation project and how to keep the public aware of and interested in the project until the Co op opens.

“I had 102 students working on these projects and they generated real ideas, budgets, and marketing plans for the Hub City Co op,” said Duesterhaus. “The exciting thing about collaboration like this is that students are working on a real project with a real client. The students have to answer to the client and stand up to the test of a real market place. On the flip side of that, the Hub City Co op receives a lot of marketing specific for their organization at no cost and they are certainly going to find something that will work for them.”

According to Duesterhaus, the students will pitch their marketing ideas as their final exams on Thursday, December 13 at 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

For more information about the Hub City Cooperative, visit www.hubcitycoop.org. For more information about the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate, visit www.uscupstate.edu/johnsoncollege.

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