EMU holds third annual Business Luncheon

“One of the reasons we hold these events is to give our students a chance to network,” Dean of the College of Business Michael Tidwell said during the third annual Eastern Michigan University Business Luncheon Friday, March 18.

Circular white tables filled the Student Center Ballroom during the event, which served both as a function to award businesses for their exemplary achievements, and for students in the COB to network with potential employers. This included students such as Evan Scarbrough, an accounting graduate student.

“I find it [the ceremony] very valuable,” Scarbrough said. “That’s how I got my internship and my current job, through networking.”

The networking happened around tables, which included complementary salads, cakes, iced tea and water for the students and corporate leaders. A gourmet entree followed. 

“I wanted to see what it’s about and meet new people,” Brian Gardner, a graduate student in accounting, said.

Starting at noon, Tidwell thanked the room of over a hundred attendees and began the awards ceremony. The event was inspired by his predecessor, who had a similar program titled Ethos Week.

“As we’ve focused on continuing to develop ethical students at the College of Business, we’ve continuously recognized that many of the companies that hire our students, are asking for employees who also understand the broader environmental context in which the companies operate,” Tidwell said.

Students who selected the winning businesses introduced each of the nine award categories. COB students helped organize the event by analyzing the businesses for their strategic mission, to award ethical business practices and profitability.

Plante Moran won the lunch’s first award for accounting. This is the 14th largest company in the country for audit accounting, taxes, and business consulting and wealth management. The company sent Chris Jones to accept the award and give advice to EMU’s current students.

“Be bold and make a difference. At this COB, you have the talent and drive to make a difference,” Jones said.

Food Gatherers won big in the ethical sector of the awards ceremony. The Washtenaw County-based nonprofit helps families and students who are low on adequate food by collecting a supply of reliable and healthy food to distribute. They left with the social enterprises award.

Growing Hope, a nonprofit group founded by Ypsilanti mayor Amanda Edmonds, which is a similar business, was also nominated. While she didn’t win, Edmonds said that this award ceremony “Reinforces the role the college of business plays in our regional business ecosystem.”

The Ford Motor Company took two of the awards, for supply chain management and for their human resources program. Ford was also one of the chief sponsors of the event, along with Russell Video, a Detroit-based events and video production company. Ford has had a long relationship with the university, and has recently been hiring heavily from EMU’s accounting and H.I.O.D. programs.

Other sponsors included Belfor Property Restoration, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital of Ann Arbor and Bearclaw Coffee, which also received an award for being an alumni-owned business. Debi Scrogjins is the EMU alumna who founded the company after retiring from her old career. When she had to put together a new staff, she came back to Ypsilanti to find it.

“I am continually impressed with the caliber of students as I continue to get involved as an alumni,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Quicken Loans took home its second win in from this event, this time for financial services. Quicken Loans moved into its new headquarters in Downtown Detroit in 2011, eventually bringing 6,000 jobs with it. According to an M-Live article from the time, Quicken Loans founder Dan Dilbert made the move to the 14-story Chase Tower on Campus Martius “to help revitalize downtown.” He encouraged other businesses to do the same. The online financial services company sent team leader Laneisha Gunn to accept the award.

“Own your opportunity,” was Gunn’s advice.

Accelerate Kid won best new startup. The Ann Arbor branch office of Google won the information systems award.

Interim EMU Provost Rhonda Longworth praised Eastern’s COB and current academic condition, saying it was the culmination of a decade of investment. “I see a real growth in our university and the COB.”

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