Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store in Petaluma, CA choice award of Nathan Nold, a marketing and management major from Savannah, MS

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Sometimes the rare can seem commonplace, but that doesn't make it any less rare or remarkable.
Think of the program at Missouri Western State University that awards business franchises to graduating seniors studying entrepreneurship. It has gone from a novelty to something that is so much a part of the fabric of the university and the community that it can be overlooked.
Founded in 2009, this competition has launched the business careers of 27 young people from the region. The newest of these is Nathan Nold, a marketing and management major from Savannah, Missouri, who earlier this month was awarded a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store in Petaluma, California.
Pam Klaus, director of franchise programs with Western's Craig School of Business, says to this day she is not aware of a comparable program that pairs education in applied entrepreneurship with a competition hosted on campus that affords opportunities for graduates to secure loan financing and a name-brand franchise.
This is the program developed in partnership with businessman and benefactor Stephen L. Craig, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a host of other franchise organizations that include Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels, Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt and Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.
The finalists prepare and present business plans to a panel of experts and past winners. The winners are provided initial capital for their stores, which the store owners pay back over five years. The entrepreneurs also receive ongoing support from faculty, the business school's advisory council and each other. It is common for past recipients of franchises to return to campus to share what they have learned.
The store owners also are encouraged to donate a portion of their store's proceeds back to the university. So far, these donations have totaled more than $260,000. In the years since the program was launched, several past winners of franchises have moved beyond their initial stores. Some have added to their holdings, while others have sold and are pursuing new opportunities made possible by their franchise experience.
The school reports 17 current owners have opened 27 businesses across the country. In 2017, these businesses had 361 employees, sales in excess of $13.7 million and payrolls totaling more than $2.4 million.
In a time when many people are questioning the value of a college education, Western's offerings in applied entrepreneurship tell a different story: Coursework closely aligned with what is needed in the business world is a formula for success - a success that gets its start on the Western campus.

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