Research begins on study supplied by grants

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Researchers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Business have started working on better understanding diversity and business growth in Michigan due to funding by two grants, totalling $225,000.

The grants were awarded to the university in August, and are sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an affiliation between Michigan’s public universities and philanthropists.

The first grant for $200,000 allows MDOT to understand the processes and communication tools associated with its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, which eliminates discrimination in awarding contracts.

The study began in August and is expected to last until August 2012.

The MDOT study involves the university’s Center for Innovation Research and two Michigan minority-owned businesses, and is surveying MDOT staffers and companies owned by individuals considered economically disadvantaged.

The study funded by the second grant begins in October 2011 and supports the Business of Franchising Initiative in the 2011-12 academic year. The Initiative will inform students and recent alumni about franchising as a business and career option. It also supports on-campus events featuring franchise owners and experts in similar areas who will discuss specific franchising issues, including how franchises relate to business ownership.

“There will be an introduction to finding and selecting a franchise,” Director of Center for iLabs Tim Davis said. “(Including) the basics, some of the funding mechanisms, managing franchises, and we’re going to talk about turning ideas into franchising.”
An advisory group comprising a former chief executive officer and district managers from Michigan companies including Little Caesars Pizza, H&R Block, Great Harvest Bread Company and FranNet LLC, will help shape the program’s content, helping prepare students for careers in franchising, Davis said.

“The advisory group is specifically for the franchise initiative,” Davis said. “What I’m looking for is people … to learn the things they need to know to get jobs or start franchising.”

The group will also recruit guest speakers and suggest areas of research to aid the industry’s growth in Michigan.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at