From demographics to drive times: COB students conduct market research

UALR’s Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center uses cutting-edge research tools to help clients make informed business decisions — tools often wielded by the capable hands of the center’s graduate assistants.

(from left) Anita Wheetley, Leo Albert Lobo and Gabriela Biris - Graduate assistants in the UALR Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center For more than 17 years, graduate assistants have conducted market research at ASBTDC, but their work has grown exponetially with the availability of new resources, such as geographic information systems mapping software and market research databases.

Today the center responds to about 30 research requests each month and assists startups, existing businesses, expanding businesses and technology-based businesses statewide.

This semester, three UALR graduate students, Anita Wheetley, Gabriela Biris, and Leo Albert Lobo, are collecting vital information to help the center’s clients. That information includes a range of things that can point a small business in the right direction, from demographics to industry trends to market potential.

“People usually want to start a business because they have a passion for something, and we can give them the tools to help increase their chances for success. For example, we can help them determine where demand for their products is high enough to support their chosen type of business,” Wheetley said.

Using the data gleaned from the students’ research, ASBTDC consultants work one-on-one with entrepreneurs, offering personalized guidance and recommendations on how to interpret and implement the findings. The research and consulting are all offered free of charge.

Wheetley, who will finish her Master of Business Administration degree in May, has also gained insight into customer behavior and fine-tuned her critical thinking skills.

“I believe the market research experience I have received at the ASBTDC will help me, no matter what industry, company or department I work for,” she said.

ASBTDC offers assistantships every semester for graduate students from across the university who want to learn more about business ownership and entrepreneurship.

Contact Heather Robinette at hbrobinette@ualr.edu for more information.

ASBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the UALR College of Business and other institutions of higher education.

Learn more at asbtdc.org.

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