Students collaborated to assist downtown merchants
Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI) and Catawba College’s Ralph W. Ketner School of Business (KSOB) implemented a program to assist downtown businesses in the areas of marketing research and consumer behavior. The program was created after a discussion in 2018 between Dr. Eric Hake, dean of the Ralph W. Ketner School of Business; Larissa Harper, director of DSI; and Whitney Wallace-Williams, then DSI Board Vice-Chair.
“One of DSI’s areas of concentration is business retention,” said DSI Director Larissa Harper. “Our goal is to help existing businesses to not only survive, but thrive. Providing educational resources and assistance from experts is one way DSI supports downtown businesses. Our merchants are working hard every day to offer the best products and services in order to provide for their families and contribute to our community’s overall goal of growing the downtown economy. DSI staff and board members are excited about the possibilities arising from this partnership with KSOB and our other higher education institutions, RCCC and Livingstone College, with which we will continue to build and grow relationships.”
After exploring the needs of downtown business owners and the subject areas in which the business school could incorporate student-based projects, the connection with Dr. Sasikarn Chatvijit-Cook, assistant professor of marketing, was solidified. The plan included utilizing students from the 2019 fall semester marketing research and consumer behavior classes to work with local businesses.
“This project has showed me the process of collecting data is not a simple one,” said Catawba student Maurice Jones. “My partner (Nathan Hosack) and I are trying to figure out a way for Ms. Pyatt to generate business for the Backcountry Peddler. My favorite part of the work has been just communicating with the different groups asking them to participate in our survey and analyzing the data. There are interesting things we have noticed so far while analyzing our data.”
“I would like to thank DSI, the local business community, and our committed faculty and students for the project-based learning activities in the fall of 2019,” said Dr. Hake. “This project has extended our classroom experience into the working world of Salisbury and the surrounding community. Project-based learning allows our students to satisfy class projects in coordination with the local business community, while faculty operate as a liaison to oversee that work.”
The following businesses registered to participate in the program:
Waterworks Visual Art Center
Full Force production
Stitchin' Post Gifts
Salisbury Antiques and Artifacts
The Backcountry Peddler
Downtown Salisbury, Inc. (DSI) and Catawba College’s Ralph W. Ketner School of Business plan to partner again with willing businesses in the future to continue the partnership benefitting businesses and students.
For more information about the Ketner School of Business, visit: Catawba.edu/business. For more information about Downtown Salisbury, Inc., visit: www.downtownsalisburync.com.