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Washington University Students Partner with St. Louis Small Business Task Force

Washington University Students Partner with St. Louis Small Business Task Force

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Students at Top-Ranked Olin Business School, supported by The Center for Research in Economics and Strategy (CRES) and the Koch Center for Family Business, advise St. Louis Small Business Task Force members in mini-presentation series this June

Washington University’s John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Strategy, Glenn MacDonald, is spearheading an initiative to provide St. Louis businesses with strategic and operational insight via consultation with top-tier undergraduates during presentations in June. MacDonald is a member of the St. Louis Small Business Task Force, a community think-tank helping to empower small and medium-sized local firms to confront the economic challenges triggered by COVID-19. To contribute to the task force mission, Dr. MacDonald saw an opportunity to provide his students challenging experiential learning opportunities while simultaneously aiding seven businesses representing various industry sectors.  The research subject organizations are primarily members of the Task Force and will each receive customized consultation during two presentations held on June 2nd and June 5th. Each team will also provide advice that would apply to other firms in each industry. The presentations will be open to the public to attend virtually via Zoom.

The businesses selected represent seven industries affected differently by the pandemic. Business owners will present their main concerns to the students, and what they hope to get out of participation; seven teams of six students will then tackle these issues and bring forth solutions. Teams include freshmen through seniors with a variety of majors and academic interests. Students were matched with the company that best aligns with their area of study to ensure each business receives relevant, expert-driven consultation. Presentations will explore how these businesses and industries as a whole have been affected by the pandemic as well as what opportunities are available to pursue for future success. Research subjects include Arco & Associates, Chill-Pak, Core Properties, Diba Imports L.P., Eckert’s, Shanti Yoga, and So Hospitality Group. 

“I think this is a great opportunity to bring together topnotch minds to help our business community and the regional economy,” said MacDonald. “Our students are some of the brightest and most motivated individuals in the country, and I am excited to involve them in this effort. It is a win-win -- the students will learn from this unique experiential learning opportunity and the business owners will come away with a fresh perspective and innovative solutions.”

The initiative is sponsored by The Center for Research in Economics and Strategy (CRES) and the Koch Center for Family Business, both at the Olin Business School. Teams producing the top three presentations will receive prizes of $1500, $1000, and $500, respectively. 

The first presentation and consultation session will occur on Tuesday, June 2nd at 3:00pm CET and conclude at 5:30pm CET. The second will be held on Friday, June 5th from 1:00pm CET to 4:30pm CET. Both presentations will be made via Zoom and can be accessed here: For more information, please contact Allex Jesper of Arco & Associates at or visit

About John M. Olin Business School

The Olin Business School is one of seven academic schools at Washington University in St. Louis and is a top-ranked undergraduate business institution. Founded in 1917, the business school was renamed for entrepreneur John M. Olin in 1988. Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education delivered prepares students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world. For more, visit: 

About the St. Louis Small Business Task Force

Erin Joy, Founder and CEO of Black Dress Circle®, a business consulting and coaching organization, introduced The St. Louis Small Business Task Force in April 2020 to bring together leaders from varied industries to clearly define and address the short and mid-term challenges presented by the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19. The St. Louis Small Business Task Force, a think-tank for community leaders, meets weekly to share knowledge, resources, and insights to empower small business owners. For more, visit

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