SEBA Students Pitch Plans to Help Antioch

SEBA students and representatives from City of Antioch talk in classroom.Saint Mary’s School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA) is once again taking to task important research and study to provide recommended solutions to a business challenge faced by a neighboring municipality. The City of Antioch—the second largest city in Contra Costa County—and the Antioch Chamber of Commerce joined forces with the Saint Mary’s Center for the Regional Economy to seek ways to improve an economically depressed commercial corridor in the city.

Somersville, a small retail area in Antioch, faces the challenges of urban sprawl and an economy that favors large metropolitan areas. As a result, many retail establishments have shuttered their doors.

MBA students enrolled in MGT352 (Social Entrepreneurship From a Global Perspective) were eager to work on phase one of the project (September–December 2019) to identify relevant trends in the Somersville Road commercial area, prepare an analysis, and propose preliminary strategies for improvements. Phase two (February–May 2020) is being conducted by a group of Business Administration seniors as part of their Capstone project. They will build upon the work of phase one by delving deeper into data collection and research to help develop the final strategic plan. Two additional teams comprised of junior and senior students from the Justice and Community Leadership Program are tasked with finding the best practices that were used in cities comparable to Antioch.

Professor Berna Aksu, director of the Center, is the lead investigator on the project. Under the direction of the course instructor Marco Aponte-Moreno, the graduate students were grouped into five teams. Each team developed an interesting mix of ideas that were presented to leadership and stakeholders from Antioch on December 11, 2019. The proposals included developing a senior living community; taking advantage of opportunity zones to entice businesses to Antioch; working with the local community college to establish a skilled trades program; a farmer’s market that would attract in-house and out of town vendors; and the issuance of a tax general obligation bond for redevelopment projects in specified areas. “The presentations were exceptional, and I am so proud of the high level of focus, ingenuity, research, and thought that went into the development of the proposals,” said Aksu.

test“With this project, our hope is to create opportunities for our residents to work, eat, and shop here. We are ripe for the opportunity,” said Richard Pagano, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. Ray Waters, general manager for the Somersville Town Center, added, “This is a great opportunity for Antioch to thrive. I think it is a step in the right direction to revitalize this area.”

In May 2020, one of the five presentations will be selected as the winning proposal during a virtual public event. The top three teams will receive a monetary award from funds raised by the Chamber of Commerce.

Register Now for the virtual Bringing Jobs to Antioch: Project Presentations, taking place Wednesday, May 13, from 7-9pm via zoom. Registration is free.

Five groups of undergraduate business administration students from Saint Mary's College of California share the findings and analysis of their work, in the culminating phase of a yearlong project, and provide recommended strategies to inspire economic development throughout the Somersville focus area. Following the presentations, the judges will deliberate, the mayor of Antioch will speak, and a presentation of the awards will close the event.

Register for Free