Lisa Herlinger started out selling her handmade Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches at the Portland Farmers' Market back in 2005. Pairings like "Lemon Cookie with Honey Lavender" and "Dark Chocolate Cookie with Fresh Mint" drew throngs of customers to her booth.
To expand on her booming enterprise, Herlinger turned to PSU's Business Outreach Program. With consulting services and student resources, the program helped her with business plan development and strategy, loan packaging and financing, accounting and bookkeeping, and expanding distribution.
Today, Ruby Jewel Treats can be found in six flavors and over 300 stores across 11 states, as well as at the Ruby Jewel Scoops retail shop (3713 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, Ore.), and at their original Portland Farmer's Market location on Saturdays in the South Park Blocks at PSU.
Supporting women- and minority-owned start-ups like Ruby Jewel Treats has been the mission of the School of Business Administration's Business Outreach Program since it started in 1994.
Most of the 600+ entrepreneurs that have worked with the program qualify as "microenterprises," with five or fewer employees. That also describes four in five of all U.S. businesses (and 86% of those in Oregon). Helping these firms succeed keeps jobs and dollars in our local communities.
Students in PSU's Business Outreach Program work with entrepreneurs like Gina Nash (above, right) of Experienced Materials.
The 1,600 students who've participated in the Business Outreach Program's Senior Capstone class graduate with more than just a business degree. They earn direct experience working with clients as well as a better understanding of the challenges facing emerging businesses and local economies.
Efforts like the Business Outreach Program are central to PSU's mission of community engagement, and are just one part of PSU's $1.4 billion annual economic impact.