Story by Ava Chuppe
Murray State has announced a new approach in order to support the regional business community.
Local economic outreach will be provided by Chris Wooldridge, the former district director of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at Murray State. He is now a faculty member of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business’ new development program housed in the Department of Economics and Finance.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to advance Murray State University and its strong commitment to academic and economic successes in the region,” Wooldridge said. “We will continue to work with service providers such as the Small Business Administration and CEDIK (Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky) to ensure services continue in west Kentucky.”
President Bob Jackson said the University will retain its support for local industry and economic growth while maintaining its role of advancing students.
“While we continue to rebalance budget realities with academic programs, we will not sacrifice our role as an activist and catalyst for small business as well as industry growth,” Jackson said. “We will continue our support in the region through a new outreach initiative in our Bauernfeind College of Business.”
Tim Todd, dean of the College of Business, said the new efforts will be effective due to Wooldridge’s expertise in economic expansion.
“Chris has a well-developed network of contacts and a successful history of working with chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and area development district, as well as elected officials and other stakeholders of the University,” Todd said. “He will be seeking collaboration among our colleges, our students and our communities to support job and wealth creation.”
Wooldridge is tasked with advancing student entrepreneurship by further connecting Murray State’s colleges with businesses and searching for experiential learning opportunities for students. His new role involves teaching finance and business to students as well as becoming the main contact for business outreach initiatives. Similarly, in his previous role at the University, Wooldridge managed local support for small business development.
Jackson remains hopeful about Wooldridge’s experience in economic growth initiatives and believes that this plan will stimulate wealth.
“This is just the first step in our plan to support the region in this fashion,” Jackson said. “You will see additional initiatives building on this outreach in the near future as we continue to grow our impact in the region.”
In addition to this new initiative, Murray State has announced changes for its Small Business Development Center (SBDC) operations that took effect on July 1.
The Murray and Owensboro SBDC operations, previously run by Murray State will now be hosted by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment said Kristina Joyce, KSBDC state director.
The change will enhance Murray State’s mission as a regional economic catalyst through its College of Business as its sustained partnership with the SBDC will allow for continued service throughout west Kentucky.
“We truly appreciate the many years that Murray State University has supported the KSBDC program and we look forward to continued, meaningful collaborations,” Joyce said. “Clients formerly served by the Murray State University location will be serviced by the Owensboro office and the KSBDC network, in collaboration with Murray State University.”
This collaboration represents a relocation of funding, previously spent on the Murray State SBDC, to bring Wooldridge into the classroom to advise Murray State students while still supporting regional business outreach. Jackson said while all of the Center’s operations are moving out of Murray and into Owensboro, the change will only expand its reach in west Kentucky.
“This change will allow for continued KSBDC services in our region and further Murray State’s commitment to providing new and innovative outreach approaches to supporting academic and economic growth in all of west Kentucky,” Jackson said.
As of July 1, inquiries for KSBDC services obtained by any Murray State campus will be redirected to the Lois Decker, director of the Owensboro Center. Decker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (270) 809-2856.