Economic Development Partnerships a Win for All

RAVENNA, NE | Aug. 24, 2011 – One of the best ways to potentially create jobs is to assist companies with increasing their sales. Following this notion and recognizing that many Buffalo County businesses lack diversity in their client base, the Economic Development Office of Buffalo County (EDCBC) developed a pilot internship program to assist these businesses in identifying new customers to buy their product. Common in small manufacturing businesses are companies that rely on a single large client for the majority of their work. If that major client downsizes, consolidates or sends production overseas, the small manufacturer and their employees are at risk. The pilot program pairs interns, business owners and economic development staff and resources to resolve this problem.

The EDCBC identified Sun Tech Industries, Inc., a Ravenna, NE injection molding company, as an emerging small business that has the potential to substantially increase their sales revenues through product export. The owners of the company were so busy running the operation and meeting demand, that continuing sales efforts became a challenge. As an injection molding company, the owners of Sun Tech Industries experienced the ups and downs of an industry effected by the recession and committed the time and resources necessary to ensure success of the pilot program.

In partnership, the EDCBC and Sun Tech Industries developed a scope of work that would have two interns conducting market research and implementing a sales and marketing campaign. Once this scope of work was defined, the EDCBC assisted Sun Tech Industries in being the first company to be approved to receive matching funds through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Talent and Innovation Initiative. With the help of UNK’s College of Business and Technology, two highly qualified students were recruited and hired to work full-time for Sun Tech Industries during a nine week period over the summer.

The interns, Katelin Hall, a UNK marketing major from Grand Island, and Matthew Voichahoske, a UNK finance major from Fullerton, successfully completed five sales and marketing objectives for Sun Tech Industries. Hall stated, “This internship has not only broadened my knowledge of marketing practices, but business as a whole.” And Voichahoske said, “Interning with Sun Tech Industries has provided invaluable insight into the intricacies that a business in a competitive industry must navigate to capture success.” Along with the management team from Sun Tech Industries, the interns’ final assignment was to evaluate the overall success of the internship program. The interns researched 321 potential customers and within two weeks after completing the internship, Sun Tech had 19 in-person meetings with potential customers throughout Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado with many more scheduled. According to Shannon Mackey, the plant manager and partner for Sun Tech Industries, “We were able to significantly increase our sales pipeline and consider this internship program to be a huge success when compared to our sales and marketing efforts of the past.”

Outside of the objectives of the EDCBC to create job opportunities in Buffalo County, the pilot program satisfies a number of needs including addressing the University’s request of the EDCBC to create quality internships, the real world business experience for the students and the business benefit of increasing sales. If your business creates a product (or service) eligible for export outside of Buffalo County and you would like to discuss the internship program, contact the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County at or (308) 237-9346.

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