Business Solutions Revenues Up
By Robyn Johnson
Mid-way through FY 2012, Business Solutions is posting net revenues of $225,000, double the projected goal of $100,000 for this year.
"Our goal was to increase our service of employers and employees in the region and I believe the results tell us we are on target," said Joe Cassidy, Dean of Continuing Education/Extended Learning at COD. "Our business plan is both responsive to client needs and aggressive in its anticipation of skill and knowledge gaps in the DuPage job market."
Business Solutions at College of DuPage provides high-quality, personalized and affordable training for organizations, businesses, schools and individuals. Established in 2009 following a complete reorganization and dissolution of the Business and Professional Institute, Business Solutions transformed an annual $200,000 net loss to a $115,000 gain during its first fiscal year.
"The transformation of Business Solutions began with a charge from COD President Dr. Robert L. Breuder to operate more efficiently and focus on cultivating relationships with area employers and employees for the mutual benefit of all involved," Cassidy said. "We are pleased to report significant progress."
Cassidy noted that with a "highly focused and efficient professional staff" and a new marketing strategy in place, Business Solutions is expanding its territory as the go-to firm for companies and individuals in DuPage County.
Clients who choose Business Solutions are seeking value-based, smart training options that quickly address their needs, said Business Solutions Account Executive Debbie Hasse.
"We're definitely unique in terms of our response time to developing new programs for our clients," Hasse said. "Obviously, quick turnaround is an important component of quality service for businesses and individuals who want to increase their salability in the workplace."
Some of the most recent ventures spearheaded by Business Solutions include new Veterinary Science, Dental Assistant and Professional Pharmacy Technician non-credit programs, as well as a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) course started this spring that prepares students to pass the Illinois CDL exam for entry-level positions. Partnerships with private and local businesses like MK Education and Bell CDL Enterprises supported rapid prototyping, combining the college's resources and experience with small business flexibility to launch training programs in growing industry clusters in a very short period of time.
"The CDL course is a perfect example of meeting market needs quickly and effectively," said Cristina Willard, Program Development Specialist for Business Solutions. "We are working with local and national trucking companies who have expressed interest in hiring our CDL graduates. Employers and students recognize the College's commitment to high quality training."
This month alone, the group is working with area companies on forklift training, health care and fire science initiatives, basic computer skills, workplace wellness, Spanish training, creating a drug free work environment, and ISO/TS 16949 (automotive quality standards) certification. Business Solutions also hosts free events like the Surviving to Thriving business conference and the annual kickoff event for Money Smart Week DuPage held in April as part of its mission of service.
"Some clients come to us looking for credit courses and immediate certifications. Others want the training for personal or professional use," Hasse said. "Our first response is to listen. Our next action is to make whatever training our clients need a reality in terms of content and affordability."
Being an extension of College of DuPage has distinct advantages for clients, including access to state-of-the art facilities, highly qualified faculty members and academic models, and the College's willingness to assist clients with grant-based funding. Gail McPike a Healthcare Program Coordinator for Business Solutions, has worked with MK Education to build upon existing college offerings to include short-term, hands-on trainings that prepare students for immediate employment.
"We guide and direct our clients to find possible funding avenues for workforce training they might not be aware of," Hasse said. "In addition, as part of an educational institution, we have applied for and received grant assistance, including a recent ETIP (Employer Training Investment Program) Grant that helped many of our clients offset their training costs by 50 percent."
With the economic downturn, many organizations and individuals have fewer resources set aside for training. However, the need for skill and knowledge updates remain unchanged, leaving the door open for many "untapped" markets among DuPage County's 46,000 area businesses, Cassidy said. In order to uncover these opportunities, Business Solutions must maintain active participation in the business community, Cassidy added.
"We recently established an Advisory Board headed up by Paul Kuchuris, President of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence and Greg Bedalov, President of Choose DuPage," Cassidy said. "This panel of business leaders, association and government officials, and COD representatives will provide us with continued guidance on market trends and will lead us into a future of continued growth, responsiveness and service in our community."
2012 College of DuPage