The sweetest deal at Missouri Western just got a little sweeter. In the past four years, graduates of the Steven L. Craig School of Business have been given the opportunity to partner with the school’s benefactor to operate a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise. The MWSU-RMCF partnership stores are in nine locations across America and are operated by nine Western graduates.
President Dr. Robert Vartabedian announced in a press conference Monday, Aug. 13 that the relationship between Western and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is expanding. Starting this semester, the Applied Entrepreneurship class will be offered in both the fall and spring semesters.
“This will allow us to at least double the number of entrepreneurs the program prepares each year, and it may grow significantly beyond that,” Vartabedian said.
The expansion also includes, for the first time, all alumni. Any graduate of the Craig School of Business, no matter when they graduated, now has the opportunity to submit a business plan to the selection panel. If selected, students are awarded ownership in a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store.
“This is a unique opportunity known only to Missouri Western graduates,” Dean of the Craig School of Business Philip Nitse said. He went on to say that he knew of no other university doing anything close to what Western offers.
Students interested in participating in the program need to enroll before Aug. 30 in the special entrepreneurship class. You must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above and prepare a business plan for a store in a specific location. The program includes an internship in one of the stores operated by one of Western’s graduates.
Your success doesn’t stop there, however. After being awarded the store, graduates are supported by faculty from the Craig School of Business and the CSB Advisory Council.
The program was conceived in November 2008 by Steven Craig.
“I wanted to find a way to help people get into business,” Craig said. “Giving young people the chance to own and operate a business does so much, not only for the store owners themselves, but also for the community.”
Recent Western graduate Isaac Collins has been working at his store in Williamsburg, Iowa, for only one and a half months. He holds two degrees in business management and marketing. He reports that his store is growing with increases in sales every month. He is most proud of his work with the “Fudge for Troops” campaign which supplies actual fudge for American troops as they serve around the globe. His store’s total is over 600 pounds of fudge shipped so far in this year’s campaign.
Leslie Oberg is the franchisee of the Aspen Leaf Yogurt Store and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store in St. Joseph. She graduated in 2011 and received her store after her business plan was selected.
“All nine of the winning franchisees have had to move away from the St. Joseph area to finish their internships,” Oberg said. “It was a great way for us to get out there and make our own path toward success.”