Skip to main content

Small business owners get help in economic recovery

May 19, 2010

Small business owners can learn how to make the most of this time of economic recovery. Top professors from the W. P. Carey School of Business will teach classes for the owners of small and diverse local businesses at the school’s third annual Small Business Leadership Academy. Salt River Project (SRP) is co-sponsor of this innovative academy, the first program of its kind in the western United States.

“The academy provides cutting-edge knowledge to small business owners in a streamlined 10-week program that helps them learn the skills they need to grow and rebound from the recession,” said Andrew Atzert, assistant dean and director of the W. P. Carey School of Business Center for Executive and Professional Development. “Many of the classes will help these companies save money and start taking them to the next level.”

“Our continued success in this endeavor with Arizona State University demonstrates how large businesses can partner with universities to provide exceptional value to the community,” said Vince Featherly, SRP manager of supply chain management and mechanical construction and maintenance. “Alumni of the academy confirm the benefits they’ve realized in attending and are able to apply the knowledge to grow their businesses. A sustainable small business base promotes economic growth and supports our local economy.”

SRP is awarding a number of scholarships to its current suppliers and small business customers this year. Other program sponsors are also being sought for the academy.

“We hope other large companies will sponsor deserving small business owners to help grow the talent in our business community,” Atzert said. “Ultimately, this will also foster mutual benefits for both the large and small companies involved through their ongoing working relationships.”

The leadership academy focuses on business strategy, team-building, negotiating, procurement and competition through service offerings. Participating small and diverse business owners will also build a support network of peers that will remain a resource long after the program is complete.

“I learned so much and have applied so many of the things I learned at my company already,” said Ann Papuga, president of American Fire Equipment Sales & Service Corporation, who attended last year’s academy. “I would absolutely recommend the program to others because the knowledge I gained has really made a difference, including helping my company to save time, improve efficiency and boost teamwork. The educators at the W. P. Carey School of Business were amazing, all top-notch, and we were able to learn from both them and the other business owners who participated.”

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, units widely used as a measure of participation in non-credit, professional development courses. The application deadline is Aug. 6. The program begins Sept. 1.

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 business),

• Have fewer than 100 employees (small business),

• 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, please call (480) 965-7579 or e-mail For more information about the SRP scholarships, contact Art Oros, SRP procurement services manager, at (602) 236-8773 or