More than Money: Business Growth MAP’s Lasting Partnership with Umpqua Bank

By Ginille Forest

From left, Dr. Jane Cody, Lisa Abrahamsson, Mistie Josephson, Chris Darcey

For more than six years, WSU Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor and Analysis Program has been fostering the next generation of business leaders. An innovative program designed to prepare undergraduates for the real world, the Business Growth MAP student consultancy pairs student teams with experienced industry professionals in the Southwest Washington and Portland metro area. Together, under faculty supervision, they work with small business clients to help develop growth strategies.

Recognizing the fundamental connection between education and economic prosperity, Umpqua Bank has created a long-term partnership with the program. “The more people we prepare for success through MAP equates to the success of not only the bank and our community’s future, but the future of our country,” said Chris Darcey, Umpqua vice president and branch manager.

To date, Business Growth MAP student consultancy has provided 215 organizations and entrepreneurs with consulting help. This has resulted in $8.2 million in new revenue for the local economy and created 67 full-time jobs. More than 1,000 students have completed the program, which is a required capstone course for senior-level business students. Many highlight the experience on their résumés. With 93 percent of WSU Vancouver students staying in the region, the program has become an integral resource for the area.

Much of the award-winning program’s success is owed to partnerships like that with Umpqua, which recently donated $5,000 to help assure the future of Business Growth MAP. The funds will go toward daily operations.

But Umpqua’s involvement extends beyond donations. Darcey, for example, serves on the MAP Advisory Board, which is made up of business leaders. Each advisory board member serves on a committee. Darcey serves on the Strategic Partnership Committee, which helps make connections to potential volunteers, small businesses and supporters.

Back row, from left: Eduard Bagnyuk, Cirith Anderson-Sebree, Rohny Saylors, Heather Huyette. Front row, from left, Xing Xui Chen, Remington Augustine

“When we see what we invest in now shaping our future, it drives us to participate in phenomenal programs such as MAP,” said Darcey.

This sentiment is shared by his colleague and volunteer mentor in the program, Cirith Anderson-Sebree.

“I love how this program pairs passionate small business owners with talented and bright university students,” said Anderson-Sebree. In spring 2017, the MAP team she was mentoring won the award for Outstanding Growth Assessment Project for its work with Déjà vu Consignment Boutique.

The student consultancy currently offers four types of assessment: growth, startup, marketing and internal controls. By providing a variety of analysis and accepting local businesses in different stages of their evolution, the program is giving students a glimpse into the complicated world of business.

The program still relies heavily on word of mouth to reach clients. Umpqua is helping with this as well, serving as a referral partner by recommending Business Growth MAP to its small business clients looking for guidance. “We look at community responsibility as an extension of what we already are and have yet to become,” explained Darcey. “Umpqua is passionate about the future of the communities we serve.”

Its partnership with Business Growth MAP reflects Umpqua’s core ideals: be a good neighbor; go the extra mile; and take care of your customers, community, and one another. This aligns nicely with Business Growth MAP’s mission to become an integral resource for student learning and community engagement while contributing to the region’s economic growth.