Students improving local businesses

Tyler Prochazka

While other classes are stuck in the buildings at WKU, the university’s entrepreneurship program is throwing tradition to the wind.

Wil Clouse, the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is teaching a “hands-on” entrepreneurship class to revitalize businesses in Bowling Green.

The class, Entrepreneurship 496, is a capstone class for entrepreneurship students and is crafted to teach entrepreneurial techniques outside of the classroom. The class is also available to others in the Gordon Ford College of Business.


This semester, students are studying nine businesses in Bowling Green’s Fountain Square. Each business has been observed by groups of students in the class, and an action plan will be developed to help stimulate economic activity for these businesses and in the square.

“It’s an innovative and creative class that develops new and innovative ideas for rejuvenating small business,” Clouse said.

The strategic study will analyze each small business and its products individually. In addition, the owners will be asked a series of questions in order to craft a strategy to improve their business.

The studies will culminate in a presentation, potentially in a public conference hall, to show other merchants the improvements that were made to these businesses.

“(We want to help them) see new visions for their products and develop new revenue streams,” Clouse said.

The strategy the students are using, the “Sante Fe Effect,” was developed by Clouse. Clouse said it has been successful in other cities, such as Miami, in reinvigorating the downtown area.

Tiffany Guy has worked with Barbara Stewart Interiors and said the experience will aid her in her goal to own her business when she is older.

For Guy, the course has allowed her to learn far more quickly than learning in the classroom.

“There are always unexpected things, or opportunities that come from learning hands-on,” she said. “It becomes more ingrained when you are actively doing something.”

Bowling Green senior Jarrod Connally said in an email he and his group have gone to study his company twice to analyze their business strategy. He said he has spent around six hours a week in the classroom and developing the report for the business.

However, he said he would recommend the course to other students for the real-world experience — and to put on a resume.

“There is pressure from an actual business that wants the information we’re gathering, and they are relying on us to help them,” he said. “Sitting in class reading about strategy is one thing, but going into a store and saying we need to shift your strategy is a whole different level of learning.”