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Rural Entrepreneurship Teaching Unit

Editors Note:  The following was submitted by Dr. Barbara Frazier of Western Michigan University.  We urge you to contact Barbara and learn more about this excellent effort.  We certainly appreciate Dr. Frazier’s interest in supporting The Rural Trust’s CMI project, and we encourage you to send us your good ideas!

The Rural Entrepreneurship Teaching Unit (RETU) is designed to introduce university learners to rural entrepreneurship opportunities. The RETU addresses the need for rural communities to stimulate local entrepreneurship and attract and retain younger residents. The unit includes teaching content on rural trends and issues, a community analysis tool, and a unit on report preparation and writing. The RETU is designed to be incorporated into an upper level undergraduate entrepreneurship, small business management or retailing course. Student teams complete learning activities in partnership with rural or small community business leaders to identify characteristics of strong rural communities, and then develop competitive strategies to strengthen the local retail and service sector. The service learning activities have the potential to produce an array of beneficial and useful outcomes for participating rural businesses, including business proposals and marketing tool kits. A complete description and resources for the RETU can be found at http://www.wmich.edu/consumer/rural-entrepreneurship/index.html.

The RETU project was developed by researchers at Iowa State University, the Ohio State University, and Western Michigan University, and was supported by the National Research Initiative (NRI) of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA, Grant # 2008-55401-04602 from the Rural Development Program. The project is focused on discovering factors that impact a rural community’s ability to rebound from the economic and social shocks of the last several decades.

Further discussion of the RETU can be found in a recently published article:

Frazier, B., Niehm, L. & Stoel, L. (2012). Community resiliency module: Connecting college learners with rural entrepreneurship opportunities. Journal of Education for Business,(1) 3, 1-22. Available at http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/111035.pdf


Barbara Frazier, PhD

Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5322

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.            

Phone: 269-387-3719

Editor’s Postscript:  For an excellent example of school-based enterprise, please read about Leeton, Missouri’s Bulldog Express by clicking on the following link:  http://www.cmi.ruraledu.org/place-based-forum/initiatives/29-bulldog-express-student-run-grocery-sustains-rural-community