How One CU Turned Grad Student Program Into Business Opportunity

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KINGSTON, N.Y.-A university business plan competition could pay off nicely for both students and a credit union here.

A team of graduate students at SUNY New Paltz School of Business linked up with Mid-Hudson Valley FCU to craft a business plan that earned the students $2,400 and could give the CU access to a new market. The contest gives local companies the chance to submit ideas that students can select to adopt and modify, Hudson Valley FCU SVP/Chief Marketing Officer Bob Michaud explained.

"The plan was to whiteboard banking services for college services: let's take a deep breath and look at the banking industry and look at it in terms of the needs of students," said Michaud. "We were interested in figuring out if they were adequately served or not and the research determined several locations where students wanted to see some form of retail delivery."


Students Felt Underserved

Though the school has some financial institutions on campus, a survey conducted showedstudents felt underserved by the two available ATMs. Michaud said the CU's personal teller machines, which it uses in lieu of traditional teller lines at its own branches, would be a perfect fit for the campus. The university plans to put out an RFP for several locations later this summer and Mid-Hudson Valley will be strongly lobbying to get a PTM on-site.

Michaud noted that the student research showed a major interest in financial literacy, but it wouldn't make much sense to have a huge presence on campus without a convenient way to do business with the students.

Aside from uncovering student banking interests, the project also unveiled ways in which local businesses could tap into the school's personality and boost the living experience.

"The cultural offerings on campus were not all that extensive," Michaud said student responses revealed. "One thing they felt our involvement could enhance is our participation in sponsorship in certain types of events that the students have interest in."

The credit union is looking at the croquet culture on campus and sponsoring a tournament or perhaps taking the lead on alternative fuel research contests to both improve visibility on campus and create a unique brand.

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