The University of Michigan-Dearborn launched a program this school year to introduce college students and recent graduates to the idea of franchising -- and entrepreneurship in general.
The College of Business, various colleges across campus, and outside organizations are participating in the program, which includes six campus events during the fall and winter semesters. The events will feature presentations by franchise owners and representatives from corporations that franchise. Other events will offer access to franchisors, scholarships and internships and more, much like a job fair.
The Business Franchising Initiative, says UM-Dearborn, is the first of its kind in Michigan. It's funded by a $25,000 grant from MIIE, Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
. Part of the mission of the organization, which is a collaboration of public universities and the philanthropic community, is to strengthen ties between academia and industry and to encourage start up and small business growth.
"The hope is to encourage graduates to stay here in Michigan," says Tim Davis, director of iLabs at the U-M Dearborn's Center for Innovation Research.
"We sort of see franchising as a method of entrepreneurship…It's a mechanism for finding supply contracts, building marketing materials…The nuts and bolts…the things that new business owners may not want to focus on or don't know how to implement," Davis says. "Franchising provides you all those structures. It's a great way to understand how to run a business."
Private partners in the initiative include Little Caesars, H&R Block, Great Harvest Bread Company, FranNet, Service Brands International, Grand Traverse Pie Co. and Biggby Coffee.
"We hope what this seed money can do is help us create a structure where we can duplicate this event," Davis says, "either on our campus or others' campuses."
Source: Tim Davis, director of iLabs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
Writer: Kim North Shine