Consulting Enterprise Team is employed by the Minnesota Trade Office to consult on the viability of instilling a job-creation program in the state

When the Minnesota Trade Office needed a meticulous evaluation of the viability of instilling the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program in the state, it turned to an ambitious team of students from the Carlson Consulting Enterprise for the job.

"We heard great things from other organizations in Minneapolis about [the Consulting Enterprise] program who have used it in the past," says Katie Clark, executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. "After talking with Phil Miller and talking with the students, we knew that [the EB-5 Immigrant Investor] program was going to receive full attention."

s Katie Clark, executive director of the Minnesota Trade OfficeThe EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a federal program designed to stimulate the economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.

"We knew a bit about the EB-5 program, but we weren't experts in the program," Clark continues. "We realized it would be greatly beneficial to work with the University of Minnesota to get some factual, sound research, and some sound strategies put together to help drive this initiative forward in a smart way."

A team comprised of Full-Time MBA students Bharat Umarji and Scott Dyer (both have since graduated), and undergraduate students Alex Meyers and Lizzy Shay undertook the project.

"It's one thing to take a class and to go to seminars and panel discussions; it's another thing to do the thing you say you want to do in a disciplined environment where you're getting consistent feedback," says Phil Miller, former professional director of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise and current assistant dean for the MBA programs and the Graduate Business Career Center. "So if you think about it, a lot of our students are graduating having had a year and a half of practical work experience while also going to school, and I think that's a big part of their growth."

"As part of the Enterprise Program," Dyer adds, "it's amazing the people you get to interact with-senior leaders, vice presidents. It gives you confidence to operate at that level."

After rigorous research and collaboration with the Trade Office and other organizations, the Consulting team produced a thorough white paper of their recommendations. The team also formally presented their recommendations to a gathering of high-level stakeholders.

"Not only is there deep research and factual, statistical information about best practices from EB-5 centers around the country, there are also a set of recommendations for the state on how we can move forward," says Clark of the team's white paper content. "They've even started some of the work for us - they've developed maps of the state of Minnesota as well as the Twin Cities area where the targeted employment areas may be, so we already have a first draft and have some of the work started."

For Meyers, a junior at the time, working on the project was an opportunity for him to get a true taste of business and accelerate his acumen beyond his years.

"I think that's one of the major benefits provided to us by the Carlson Consulting Enterprise is just that we have the opportunity to work on a project that's actually going to potentially serve real value to the state," says Meyers. "Having that kind of impact is not something that a lot of business students have at my level."

Clark could have gone with a major consulting firm, but she found that working with the students wasn't all that different from working with a professional firm. "But our bills were a little lower," she says with a laugh. "I can't say enough about the quality of work they put out and just the overall experience in working with the team. I'm sure they're all going to go on and have great success in their careers."