Recent MWSU Graduate Gets Business Opportunity
Contact: Kent Heier
Title: Assistant PR/Marketing Director
RECENT MWSU GRADUATE GETS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
St. Joseph, Mo. - Aug. 6, 2010 - The Steven L. Craig School of Business at Missouri Western State University has announced that Brady Ellis, a May 2010 graduate of Western from Stockton, Mo., has been awarded the chance to operate and eventually own a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Store in Vicksburg, Miss.
''I'd like to thank everyone here for all their support, the Craig School of Business, all the faculty members and everyone that has added to this program,'' Ellis said. I'd especially like to thank Steve Craig for everything hes done, and Im extremely excited about this opportunity.''
Craig, CEO of the Craig Realty Group of Newport Beach, Calif., and the man for whom the business school is named, started the program in 2009. Seth Lyons, a 2009 Western graduate, was given the chance to operate a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Store in the Outlets at Silverthorne, a shopping center owned by Craig Realty Group in Silverthorne, Colo.
''The idea of the program is to speed up the training and development of entrepreneurs in the Missouri Western culture,'' Craig said. Last yearss pilot program has gone exceedingly well, he said, and he expects Ellis to continue the success.
''Most impressive throughout the process was Brady's consistent desire, enthusiasm and willingness to work hard to make this store successful,'' he said.
Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Western's president, thanked Craig for his role in creating the unique program.
''Steve has been very generous to us in the past and continues to do so with these kinds of initiatives, and we can't thank him enough,'' Vartabedian said. ''This is the ultimate university job placement center, finding franchises for our graduates. I don't know of anywhere else in the United States where this is happening. This is remarkable.''
Competition for the Vicksburg store began in spring 2010, when interested 2009 and 2010 graduates of the CSB were invited to submit their resumes and respond to a questionnaire about business careers. A panel of CSB faculty and advisory council members selected three finalists. Two of the finalists completed internships at the Silverthorne store and visited the Outlets at Vicksburg shopping center, the location of the new store. All three wrote business plans, which they presented to a five-person interview panel before the final selection was made.
''The candidates were fantastic,'' said Greg Pope, senior vice president of development for Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a member of the interview panel. ''We're very pleased with Seth and his representation of our brand in Silverthorne, and were looking forward to Brady in Vicksburg in the coming year.''
Although Ellis has graduated from Western, the relationship with his alma mater doesnt end. Student winners in the program give back to the university by returning to speak to business classes and by offering internships to Western students. In fact, Ellis did a three-week internship with Lyons in his Colorado store this summer. And the ongoing relationship with the university is not a one-way street.
''There are going to be faculty members that are going to be assigned to work with him and assist him with all sorts of different things,'' Craig said. ''What we'd like to do is try to avoid the pitfalls that lead many young businesspeople to stub their toe.''
Ellis will start training to operate the store in the next couple of weeks, and a vacant space is currently being rebuilt to house his store in Vicksburg.
Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit www.missouriwestern.edu.