A Case for Newark

Matthew Gentry, Alex Huey, David Mahon and Apruva Shukla smile after the announcement that their team, the Buzzer Beaters, had won the 2019 Carol A. Ammon Case Competition.

Over 33,500 people, including professionals, academics, students, business owners and more, call the city of Newark, Delaware home. For the 20th Anniversary of the Carol A. Ammon Case Competition, University of Delaware MBA students competed to make the best case for the Newark Partnership (TNP), a community coalition dedicated to the economic, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and social enhancement of the city of Newark. Students put their academic work into action, creating solutions that may impact their own Newark community.

On March 22, 2019, the three finalist teams presented their solutions to a panel of community and business leaders representing TNP. The Buzzer Beaters, a team made up of MBA students Matthew Gentry, Alex Huey, David Mahon and Apruva Shukla, took home first prize for its TNP business plan. The team gave several recommendations for TNP: strengthen college relationships, increase fundraising, diversify the TNP Board, expand business membership, heighten student enthusiasm and focus on a renewed commitment to Newark education.

The team recognized that TNP could create unique curricular opportunities for local students, such as capstone projects, to engage them in the partnership. In order to keep Newark’s large educational community involved in TNP, the Buzzer Beaters recommended adding both a college student and a local education leader to the board. Additionally, they recommended creating a kick-off event and a permanent city of Newark endowment campaign to spark community interest in fundraising for TNP.

“The [TNP] Board plans to consider and incorporate the best pieces from each of the finalists in the final business plan for the new organization,” said Valerie Lane, coordinator of the Community Engagement Initiative at UD.  

The second place team, New Boost, included Will Cottrell, Tim Huffman, Xiaoyan Qian and Bruce Wayne. Elizabeth Fasy, Abhinandan Katta, Tej Patel and Crystin Thornton made up the third place team, Lion Strategy. Video of the final round of the competition is available on the Lerner College Facebook page.

“The focus on the Newark Partnership came about as a serendipitous event,” said Katalin Takacs Haynes, associate professor of management at UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and director of the Carol A. Ammon Case Competition.

While Takacs Haynes searched for a company to highlight at this year’s competition, TNP asked her to become a community liaison for the partnership. It struck Takacs Haynes that this could be the perfect fit for 20th Anniversary of the Carol A. Ammon Case Competition.

“Given the diverse array of clients the case competition has served over the past 20 years, it seemed fitting to have the theme return ‘home’ in celebration,” said Lane. “Newark is a diverse, energetic, and vibrant community and engaging our UD students seemed like a natural part of the building blocks for TNP.”

The Lerner College, TNP and the city of Newark worked in close collaboration to create the case details. A small committee composed of the mayor of Newark, Polly Sierer, as well as representatives of the Newark Partnership and Takacs Haynes, Lane, Leann Moore and Dan Rich from UD, met several times to plan the case. The committee then presented the case concept at TNP Economic Enhancement Committee meetings.

“TNP is unique because of its broad, three pillar mission, encompassing economic development, nonprofit enhancement, and civic engagement for the entire city of Newark,” Lane explained. “Historically, other organizations attempting to meet these lofty goals have not remained successful. As such, TNP leadership reached out to the Lerner College to (1) further TNP’s goal of bolstering UD-community relations and; (2) partner and capitalize on the business expertise that already exists within the community TNP aims to serve.”

When asked what made this year’s case important, Takacs Haynes said, “This is a unique case in that it is a real-world, real-time case, the best solutions of which might be put into practice in our own backyard, in Newark. Some of the solutions the MBA students provide might affect their own and their peers’ lives in real and meaningful ways.”

The Carol A. Ammon Case Competition

The Carol A. Ammon Case Competition gives graduate student teams the opportunity to create and present recommendations for a focal company. The competition enhances students’ analytical and presentation skills, expands students’ business vocabulary and exposes them to a vital audience of regional corporate leaders. The competition is made possible by the generous support of Endo Pharmaceuticals and is named for the company’s founder, Carol A. Ammon.

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