DuBois students pitch business ideas to economic developer

Noah Rankin was among the business students who presented potential ways to spur economic growth .

Noah Rankin, at the podium, was among the business students who presented potential ways to spur economic growth to representatives from Clearly Ahead Development.

Credit: Penn State

DUBOIS, Pa. — Penn State DuBois business majors had the opportunity to significantly impact the region’s economy this semester.

Juniors in Business Administration 321 were assigned a project in which they broke up into teams to research ideas that could stimulate the growth of the local economy. They then pitched these ideas to representatives from Clearly Ahead Development, an economic development corporation serving Clearfield County. 

“It’s about working in teams, learning about the county, polishing presentation skills, and learning about future employment opportunities,” said Assistant Teaching Professor of Business Administration Laurie Breaky, explaining some of what her students learn from the experience.

Breaky added that the project is a mutually beneficial partnership between students and Clearly Ahead, with the students’ work helping to fuel Clearly Ahead’s mission.

“They’re presenting ideas that Clearly Ahead could really pursue,” said Breaky. “They don’t have a large staff, and it would take one person so long to gather this information, complete the research, and compile it into a full business report. And that’s what the students did here.”

The initiatives students researched and compiled reports on included attracting business and industry to make a home in Clearfield County. Areas that the groups researched included the dairy industry, transportation, and the food and beverage industry. They completed market studies and compiled reports that could be presented to companies to demonstrate why a move to Clearfield County would be lucrative. Specifically, they focused on enticing industry to move into the Clearfield Commerce Park, a 162-acre site near Interstate 80 with rail access, as well as access to full utilities.

Other groups researched ways in which Clearly Ahead could expand upon marketing to industry by employing the latest methods for optimizing their web presence, using direct mailings, and more.

Student Noah Rankin, of Clarion, said the real-world experience is something he can carry into his career. 

“Working together with others to find a common goal and complete a big project successfully feels like a huge accomplishment,” he said.

Clearly Ahead CEO Rob Swales said the students proved themselves with high-quality work. 

“I thought they did really well. We helped them identify some things their groups could research, and they took it from there,” Swales said. “You could tell they took this seriously, and we’re very pleased with that. They actually opened up some potential initiatives for us to dig into deeper.”