The collaborative partners Xavier students with the Evanston Business Association to revitalize Evanston’s Montgomery Road business corridor, which borders the University. The effort is part of a comprehensive community revitalization partnership between Evanston and Xavier that is being funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Under the business program, M.B.A. students take two courses, the first on market research and the second on venture planning. Through these courses, students collect data and examine attitudes toward the Montgomery Road corridor and then combine those findings with business assessments to create startup business plans for the area. The courses begin in summer 2006. A symposium, including students and business owners, is being held to discuss strategies.
“In line with Xavier University President Michael J. Graham’s, vision for community engagement, the collaborative moves the classroom out into the community and brings the community into the classroom,” says Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business, whose management and entrepreneurship and marketing departments are involved in the initiative. “Rather than working through case studies, students will be engaging with actual consumers and business owners as they address the critical and unique issues facing urban markets.”
The findings are being entrusted to the Evanston Business Association, which is responsible for coordinating future recruitment and technical support, with ongoing cooperation from business students and faculty. The HUD Community Outreach Partnering Center (COPC) grant provided to Xavier allows for the business association to hire a part-time graduate assistant to carry out this oversight for the next three years.
Community partners are the volunteer-based Evanston Business Association and Evanston Community Council, the citizen-led Community Problem-Oriented Policing Team, and the non-profit Community Redevelopment Group.
Technical support is being provided by the Community Building Institute, a partnership between Xavier and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which is managing the COPC grant. The grant is funding a broader Evanston-Norwood-Xavier Community Partnership, whose five initiatives include revitalizing the business corridor.