In early 2013, newly elected HBA officers David Schlueter and Bob Van Loan were discussing ideas on how to better market the Helena Business Association to local businesses and residents without incurring the high cost of hiring a professional marketing firm. An idea was born — what if we contacted local colleges and universities with business programs to see if they would be interested in taking us on as a class project? A total of 11 schools were asked to help and two replied favorably: Brock School of Business at Samford University and Virginia College of Birmingham. It was soon decided that Brock had the better reputation and resources, so a partnership was formed, Professor Clif Eason was assigned as our point of contact, and the project began.
The HBA was assigned a team of three MBA candidates who jumped in with great enthusiasm. They toured the community and its business centers, met with the mayor, interviewed both HBA and non-HBA members and put together the report posted here. HBA officers Van Loan and Henry Neff were treated to a formal presentation of the team's findings at the end of the 2014 spring semester. We present the report here in full, warts and all, so that the reader may gauge the progress of the HBA against the team's recommendations.
Our relationship with Brock continues today as the school selects one member business each semester to work with on their strategic marketing plan, all at no cost to the business. The HBA is proud and grateful to be associated with one of the Southeast's leading business management education programs and hopes to continue the relationship for many years to come.