Penn State Lehigh Valley will launch its Council for Retail and Sales with a kickoff ceremony Friday at 9 a.m. at its Upper Saucon Township campus.
The council will provide professional education and connect students to entry-level retail and sales opportunities.
“It helps existing retail and sales organizations to hopefully thrive and also helps students connect to these industry professionals,” said Denise Ogden, professor of marketing at Penn State Lehigh Valley and co-founder of the council.
The council is comprised of about 20 high-profile business professionals who will work with the retail and sales communities to create interest in retail and sales careers, she said.
The group’s goal is to develop relationships, strategic alliances and partnerships with stakeholders in these industries.
The Council for Retail and Sales grew out of The Center for Retailing Solutions, which began in 2009 at Kutztown University.
Ogden said she and her husband, James “Doc” Ogden, operated The Center for Retailing Solutions at Kutztown University until he retired in 2013. The center went dormant and moved to Penn State in 2017 and rebranded as the Council for Retail and Sales, under Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, Penn State Lehigh Valley’s innovation hub, she said.
Penn State University provided a $120,000 grant to kick-start the council and get it going for three years, she said. Her goal is to keep it going beyond that three-year period.
Sponsors of the council include Walmart, Sherwin-Williams and Erie Insurance, all of whom provided funds for the initiative.
Sherwin-Williams gave $2,500 to sponsor a collegiate pitch competition among area college students in November, an activity the council plans to offer each year. Student teams will present an idea to Sherwin-Williams and have the opportunity to win $1,000 in prize money.
Meanwhile, Walmart donated $10,000 to the council and Erie Insurance provided $1,800, she said.
“There’s definitely buy-in from retailers and sales organizations,” she said.
The council also launched its website at www.crspsu.org.