Some 50,000 hours from more than 100 University of Oregon students focused on nearly 30 city of Redmond projects as part of the Sustainable City Year Program, and students from the Lundquist College were at the forefront.
The Sustainable City Year Program is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, a crossdisciplinary approach to solving community issues from the regional level down to the building. Lightly guided by faculty members, students work with community leaders to produce innovative and tangible solutions for the creation of a sustainable society.
Heather Richards, Redmond’s director of community development, explained how the students were able to address existing issues the city simply hasn’t had the resources to take on.
“It’s ‘unplugged’ a lot of projects that we have had on the drawing board for the last couple of years,” she said.
It’s a common dilemma for many organizations: knowing there are areas for improvement and organization, but lacking resources to address these needs.
Community stakeholders, including business owners, city employees, economic development agencies, residents, and others were part of the collaboration with students. Richards praised the students’ work as innovative and creative.
Student teams from the Lundquist College of Business took on four projects for the city of Redmond: marketing the airport, the feasibility of a business incubator/accelerator, downtown market revitalization, and the feasibility of a multi-sports complex.
Lundquist College senior instructor of management Beth Hjelm emphasized the real world value of the exercise.
“It’s a real consulting assignment,” she said. “They have to think about timing, scale, projects, ‘How do I communicate with the client on a regular basis?’”
Chad Derrick, a business honors student planning to graduate in spring 2017, worked on the feasibility of an incubator. He explained his team of four business students conducted interviews, responded to feedback, and benchmarked the city of Redmond against other cities with incubators in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Colorado.
“It was probably my favorite course at the business college so far,” Derrick said, adding the team drew on knowledge and skills from their management, new venture launch, and operations and business analytics coursework, then took it to the next level.
“We got to do something I know will have an impact one way or another—something real. It’s also given me experience I can speak to in job interviews. I would recommend it to any student who wants to go beyond theory and memorization and really dive in and get their hands dirty.”
So is Redmond ready for a business incubator? Derrick and his teammates say yes.
For a broad look at the many projects students worked toward, check out the video the city of Redmond posted about its partnership with the UO Sustainable Cities Initiative.