Jennifer Ryan

Man smiling and leaning on counter in bakery with laptop computer next to a sign that reads 'open'

Starting and running a small business is challenging in many ways. Entrepreneurs and small business often lack the support and expertise needed to bring ideas to life or to market them effectively. Auburn University Outreach’s Government and Economic Development Institute (GEDI), through an Economic Development Agency University Center grant, is offering creative support services such as branding, product packaging and prototype development to student and community startups.

Employing students majoring in Industrial Design from Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction and occupying office space in the New Venture Accelerator in Auburn’s Research Park is allowing Auburn University to work side-by-side with entrepreneurs and virtually with small businesses all over the state. The process starts with entrepreneurs submitting an online form that details their need. We then reach out to the businesses to get more information and discuss ideas. After the initial meeting, Auburn EDA University Center employees begin the work of bringing ideas to life. Whether we are designing a logo, a product label or even the user interface of an app, we focus on the end goal of helping the business achieve success.

Using students to work with the businesses on the projects is an important aspect of Auburn’s work as an EDA University Center. Students are not only earning money to help with college expenses, but they learn time management skills while managing class and work schedules. Students also learn how to manage expectations, business communications skills and gain real life work experience. It allows them to step outside the classroom, apply what they have learned and become more marketable in the process. The arrangement is a win-win for everyone involved. Business clients have been pleased with the work provided by the Auburn University EDA Center and have given positive feedback on the projects.

“GEDI provides these services to small businesses and entrepreneurs through a Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center grant. Auburn’s EDA University Center program is a partnership among The Government and Economic Development Institute, The Harbert College of Business, and the Office of External Engagement. “Our cross-disciplinary approach enables the center to broaden its mission and strengthen Alabama’s entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said David Mixson, GEDI’s Associate Director and EDA University Center Director.

For more information on Auburn’s EDA University Center, please contact David Mixson at 334.844.4704, or via email at mixsoad@auburn.edu or visit auburn.edu/gedi/eda

Last Updated: March 21, 2022