Groups of Illinois State University business students pitched their proposals to a panel last Thursday for what a private park in Bloomington could potentially be turned into.
Ideas included an indoor water park, an outdoor movie theater or a new business called LaZer Kartz. They presented to a panel of local business owners, investors, entrepreneurs and other stake holders.
“They were very smooth in their presentations, communicating their ideas well and highlighting the impact well,” Doan Winkel, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at ISU, said.
The students are enrolled in Management and Quantitative Methods 223 and have been working on the project for the past semester, both pitching and developing their proposals throughout the course.
The class is taught by Winkel, who partnered with the Union Park for the assignment. The committee is planning to develop the former GE Park, located near the corner of General Electric Road and Veterans Parkway in Bloomington, and has taken the students’ ideas into consideration.
Union Park committee has been looking for ideas on how to use the 20-acre park since the Police Benevolent and Protective Association Union No. 21 purchased it about a year ago. The organization is looking for a safe place for the public that could potentially create revenue to maintain and expand the park.
Winkel said that the board of local and regional business leaders was interested in all of the ideas.
“They acknowledged all could be implemented, but some would be easier than others. For instance, an indoor water park would take significant funding,” Winkel added.
Students proposed that the indoor water park would feature a lazy river, a wave pool, concession stand, waterfall and water slides, as well as an outdoor tanning area and a splash pad. Another group proposed LaZer Kartz, which would use the space for laser tag and go-cart racing. One person would drive a cart through the course while the other attempts to hit targets with a laser gun.
A third group proposed that the area be used for block parties or for outdoor movie nights, an idea that was noted as potentially easier to implement.
In addition to these three groups, two other groups proposed ideas on a separate issue, which was how ISU students can educate children in a village in Nigeria. One group proposed a videoconferencing room for the village which Winkel said might take significant resources and would face cultural challenges.
The panel concluded that the students were enthusiastic about their proposals. Winkel said the project helps students develop and communicate ideas, receive and process feedback on ideas, and learn public speaking as well as the power of networking.
“I hope they gain these soft skills, which are not addressed in most other classes, but are critical to their career path,” Winkel concluded.
Nick Laskey, a junior enrolled in the class, said the experience has created confidence in developing a business idea and properly conveying the idea to a panel.
“I have no question saying this is the best class I have taken here due to the fact that I have gained so much real-world experience that no other classroom settings have been able to offer me,” Laskey said.