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MBA students compete to strengthen New Orleans community

May 2, 2008

Two students from Loyola University New Orleans’ Master of Business Administration (MBA) Program have advanced to the final round of the 2008 JPMorgan Chase Community Development Competition to develop space for New Orleans’ Preservation Resource Center’s Rebuilding Together initiative.

The competition, a real-world learning experience, gives a team of students an opportunity to partner with a New Orleans nonprofit organization to develop a real estate project that is feasible, sustainable, and helps build and strengthen the local community.

Meaghan Ryan Bonavita and Chad Janusa, along with faculty adviser Dr. Brett Matherne, assistant professor of management, created a plan for the Preservation Resource Center’s Rebuilding Together initiative. The plan calls for the expansion of the initiative’s warehouse space which would enable receipt of more salvaged historical materials to be sold to the general public for renovations or for use in Rebuilding Together’s more than 34 current renovations. Rebuilding Together focuses on renovations for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners in the Treme, St. Roch, Hollygrove, Broadmoor and Holy Cross neighborhoods. There is no cost to the homeowner.

“This project created an interesting study about how a nonprofit can solve new problems and meet new opportunities by networking with other nonprofits, governmental agencies and businesses,” said Matherne. “Rebuilding Together has seized a need in the community through leveraging its relationships with other organizations and exceeding how they conceived of themselves prior to Katrina.” Matherne believes Meaghan and Chad were impressed and enthused with the social entrepreneurship aspect of Rebuilding Together’s efforts. As New Orleans residents, Matherne thinks they both take great pride in working to create a better local housing environment.

A panel of judges will select the winning team on May 6. The selection process involves a review of the abstract, written proposal and oral presentation. JPMorgan Chase will award pre-development grants to the nonprofit partners in the amounts of $25,000 for first place; $15,000 for second place; and $10,000 for third place.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at (504) 861-5888 or jshields@loyno.edu.

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