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ASU, SRP host Small Business Leadership Academy

July 21, 2009

Small business owners struggling in the rough economy will receive valued education from top professors through a special program at the W. P. Carey School of Business this fall. Salt River Project (SRP) and the business school at Arizona State University are holding their second annual Small Business Leadership Academy, the first program of its kind on the West Coast. 

“The challenging economic climate makes it even more important for small business owners to develop their business acumen than in years past,” says Andrew Atzert, assistant dean and director of the W. P. Carey School of Business Center for Executive and Professional Development. “Faculty will focus on how to move forward in a downturn, and the academy will provide cutting-edge knowledge that wouldn’t otherwise be available due to the financial and time constraints of busy small business owners.”

The leadership academy was created to provide education and resources to small and diverse local businesses. The 10-week program focuses on business strategies, including negotiations, employee engagement and retention, competition through service, and corporate procurement and supply chain procedures. Many of the concepts covered will help these companies save money and start moving their ventures to the next level, despite the recession.

“The success of last year’s program encouraged SRP to continue our partnership with ASU,” says Linda Paugh, SRP’s supplier diversity administrator. “Based on the responses from the 2008 graduating class, there is a clear need for this type of education in the small and diverse business community. The type of support extended to our scholarship recipients aligns with SRP’s mission statement. We always strive to provide value to our customers.”

SRP, the largest provider of electricity to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, is awarding 16 scholarships to its current suppliers and small business customers this year. Participants were chosen through a detailed process and notified last week.

In light of the program’s success, it is also expanding. In addition to SRP, other companies are encouraged to sponsor small business owners with whom they work. Self-funded small business owners may also sign up. Past attendees say the coursework benefits both their own ventures and the larger companies that sponsored their participation.

“I enjoyed it immensely and still refer back to the materials we received,” says Chau Nguyen, president and co-owner of CHAOS Supplies, an SRP supplier. “You will get a different perspective on your business, looking inward, assessing where you’re at and where you think you need to go, as you learn about the strategic positioning of your company. I received feedback from great professors and was able to network and interact with other small business owners in the same boat for support and advice.”

The academy holds classes one evening each week, making the schedule flexible enough for small business owners to attend. Participants will earn four Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Arizona State University. These units are widely used as a measure of participation in non-credit, professional development courses. Classes will start Sept. 9. 

Applicants should:

• Be the owner or principal of a business
• Have a minimum business tenure of three years
• Have annual revenues between $1 million and $5 million (small businesses)
• Have fewer than 100 employees (small businesses)
• Be willing and able to attend all scheduled classes and related activities.

For more information about the academy or similar customized executive education programs through the nationally ranked W. P. Carey School of Business, contact Andrew Atzert at (480) 965-8617 or For more information about the SRP scholarships, contact Art Oros, SRP procurement services manager, at (602) 236-8773 or