Cover Image:

This month’s cover shows a collage of real estate projects completed by Ghan & Cooper Properties, Ft. Smith’s largest commercial real estate developers. Photos courtesy Ghan & Cooper with their cube image by Jeff Genova. Design by Royce Fitzgerald.

UAFS College of Business: Dr. Ashok Subramanian, Dean of the College of Business, explains the economic and social aspects the University brings to our community 

Early in 2016 I decided to join the leadership at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS) as the Dean of the College of Business (COB).  I remember being thoroughly impressed at that time by the strong ties and bonds of commitment between the COB at UAFS and the Fort Smith business and civic communities.

Over the last several months, I’ve become acquainted with the Fort Smith community. I’ve found enthusiastic support for my desire to blur the lines that separate the academy from the business and social communities.  As the citizens of Fort Smith engage constructively as real partners in this effort to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the community, it is helpful to have a good understanding of the landscape and what we, the COB and UAFS, bring to the proverbial table of economic and community development.   

It is conventional wisdom in economic development circles that colleges and universities are critical to the success of local and regional economies and communities. This is based on the fact that a university is a legitimate economic and social anchor.  The substantial investments in local and regional real estate and social capital make it very difficult for the university to pull up stakes and leave the area, unlike corporations and businesses.

The university plays a number of economic and social anchor roles.  A summary of these roles is presented below. They are drawn and derived from the research efforts and reports published by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). See http://icic.org/research/anchor-initiatives/.

Purchaser Urban universities spend more than $69 billion on the procurement of goods and services. Local purchasing programs create mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and communities. The programs provide investment for local businesses while creating improved service and delivery of goods to universities, given the close proximity of local vendors.  

Employer  Employment at postsecondary institutions represent more than two percent of total employment nationwide. Staff positions which usually outnumber faculty positions, are typically filled by recruiting from the local community.  

Workforce  Overlapping with the employer section, universities play a significant role in designing and implementing workforce training programs with local and regional businesses. Often, faculty with special skills and knowledge are hired to deploy these programs, and they become a resource that enriches the skill and knowledge-base of the community.

Real Estate  Given universities’ real estate holdings in both urban and rural areas, the use of these properties can be an essential ingredient for neighborhood revitalization. Capital projects can boost at-risk economic corridors and employ local contractors, and development can spur regional economies through the creation of industry clusters.

Incubator  Typically, the research capacity (faculty and lab resources) of universities is often leveraged to develop local knowledge-based economies such as the Protein Industry, Biomedicine, “Lights-out” (automated) manufacturing and other industries. In modest sized communities such as Fort Smith, the incubator role will work best when focused more on small local businesses, eclectic and creative businesses that rely on human creativity rather than expensive equipment, and spin-offs from established mature businesses such as food, logistics and transportation.

Advisor  In an advisory role, a university can provide consulting services and networking opportunities to local businesses. For success in this arena, universities need to develop a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to advisory service.  This is because the vast majority of needs in the business and social community reside at the intersection of conventional academic disciplines.

Community  City administration increasingly finds itself constrained by tight budgets and short-staffings.  Consequently, projects that could add value to the community, but are outside the scope of conventional operations, often don’t come to fruition.  A university which is serious about its “service learning” mission could be a valuable resource in such instances.  Development and implementation of community projects could be folded into academic curricula, thereby also providing a valuable experiential learning opportunity for students.

There is a bold attitude and energy on the campus at UAFS. The College of Business at UAFS is open for business, and there is a singular drive to be engaged as equal partners with business and civic organizations. We are fully committed to transforming Fort Smith and the neighboring communities into thriving hubs of economic and social prosperity. In future, my intention is to describe and discuss initiatives that are, and will be, instrumental in that transformation.


Dr. Ashok Subramanian

Dr. Ashok Subramanian is the Dean and Joel R. Stubblefield Endowed Chair in the College of Business at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. He has both a PhD in Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Houston, as well as a BSc in Chemistry and Physics from the University of Bombay, India. He has extensive experience as a consultant and entrepreneur in the IT sector. Prior to his current position at UAFS, Dr. Subramanian’s leadership career includes being Dean of the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business at Buena Vista University, Iowa 

Updates
CHAFFEE CROSSING: A COMMUNITY ON THE RISE

In the late 1970s and early 1980s a man named Andres Duany and his architectural partners formulated the principles of new urbanism. These principles seek to end suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment by developing mixed-use, smart growth communities that encompass all aspects of life within walkable neighborhoods.

Read More


Updates
Downtown Business Association: New face promoting Fort Smith

A new organization of local businesses was born just after the first of this year. The Fort Smith Downtown Business Association LLC, or FSDBA, brings together the development and promotion of local services, shopping, entertaining, and dining, along with the history and values of the community’s traditions. 

Read More


Updates
Promoting growth in every way

The Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce works hard every day to promote individual businesses, industry sectors, and the overall regional economy. The local chamber takes multitasking to a new level. 

Read More


Updates
Business schools vs trade schools: Not mutually exclusive

Over the last few years the rising cost of college education and student debt has generated a lot of heated discussion.  In this climate of anxiety, trade schools or vocational/technical (vo-tech) schools have emerged as alternatives to traditional colleges.

Read More


Family Business
Planning Family Business Succession

A step by step guide to passing on the family business.

Read More


Website Development
3 Benefits of an Online Store

While a "No soup for you!" attitude might get laughs on the old Seinfeld shows, the real world is a different place. Berating customers won’t bring you more. Long lines of customers are more frequently due to good customer service, and this can lead to more sales.

Read More


Technology
Your Company PC: A Hacker’s Paradise

The Internet is a dangerous place. It is used by modern criminals to launch cyber-attacks on unprotected businesses.  From ransomware to phishing to fraudulent transactions, hackers are looking to access your files and steal confidential data. 

Read More


Business Growth
Shaping a Healthy Business through Healthy Employees

An important program for industry is preventive maintenance for facilities and machinery.  Preventive maintenance programs accomplish more than the routine servicing of equipment.

Read More


 Location

BSavvy Magazine

Office:
PO Box 537
Fort Smith, AR 72901
Office Phone:
479-653-1221

 Contact

BSavvy Magazine

Colleen Perry

  (479) 653-1221

Colleen@bsavvymagazine.com