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ARC grant provides learning opportunities for business students

Students taking Business Plan Development (BBA 350) have gained real-world experience this semester thanks to a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The $5,000 Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) grant paid for the service-learning component of the course, qualifying it as a Level-UP course. Level UP: Experience Your Future is a campus-wide program developed to help students improve specific student learning and student success outcomes. The program also helps students prepare for their future by using hands-on experiences to foster critical career skills, including:

  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Professionalism skills
  • Critical thinking

"These skills can be used regardless of the degree, discipline, or career students are pursuing. In addition, through those same hands-on experiences, students will learn compelling strategies for convincing potential employers or graduate/professional schools of their skill mastery," said Dr. Janet Ratliff (Class of 1991, 1992), associate professor of management and entrepreneurship and endowed professor of entrepreneurship, who teaches BBA 350.

For the project, students provided Downtown Morehead Inc. with four alternative research-based business plans that are appropriate and well-suited to the vacant spaces in the downtown area. A public relations campaign highlighting the value of shopping locally and supporting small businesses was also launched by students as part of the course. Some of the ideas Ratliff's students came up with included a UPS Store, a breakfast and bakery company, a Fresh Start restaurant franchise and an outdoor recreation business. Ratliff and several students will present the project at the 22nd Annual Appalachian Teaching Project National Conference, Dec. 2-3, in Washington, D.C.

"I wanted to provide students in my business plan development course an opportunity to do something that was realistic. Downtown Morehead, Inc. has goals that my course can support in their respective efforts. This allows my business students to be exposed to real opportunities in our local community," Ratliff said. "By providing entrepreneurial education in an applied way, college students have a more meaningful experience knowing that they are investing in entrepreneurial and business development strategies that will strengthen their local economy and Appalachia's economy."

Morehead State is the only school in Kentucky to be awarded an ATP grant this year.

To learn more about Level UP, call 606-783-2003 or email

To explore MSU's Elmer R. Smith College of Business & Technology programs, call 606-783-2090 or email

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