Business Economics majors to partner with small businesses

By Zach Logan, News Editor

Next spring, business economics students will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test and help small businesses prosper thanks to Armstrong’s partnership with the Small Business Institute. According to Dr. Dennis Barber III, assistant professor of economics, and Small Business Institute (SBI) director, the SBI is meant to facilitate interaction between the small business community and university students. For class credit, students primarily in the business economics department will form teams and set off to collaborate with area small businesses. They will work alongside their business, offering recommendations and suggestions on how to improve the company.

According to Dr. Barber, the program is a win-win for both the students and companies. The businesses will gain advice and suggestions from students and the students will have a chance to utilize their expertise in the workforce. He says this will also serve as valuable resume experience.

Dr. Barber plans to have five businesses participating in the program and one has already expressed interest. The Wilmington Island Farmers Market (WIFM) welcomed 300 guests upon opening in 2013. Now, according to WIFM Manager, Debby McIncrow, the market has more than doubled in weekly attendance. McIncrow says, “Currently, we are a bustling Saturday morning market that welcomes 700+ guests a week so far this Fall.” McIncrow says that WIFM is excited to see what the students have to say about their small business. She mentions, “WIFM looks forward to working with Armstrong and reaping all their students have to offer in the bettering of our community farmers market.  It will be a fabulous team with a local college; we believe that the learning experience will be a two way street and we will all benefit from the partnership.”

In 2014, the department began offering a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics and the program has been growing ever since. Dr. Barber is still in the planning stages with scouting other businesses to join alongside the WIFM. Currently, the field-based class will be open to approximately 20 students. Prerequisites will apply. Contact Dr. Barber ( for more information.