A group of Georgia Highlands College students has jumped at a unique opportunity to ensure a Cartersville landmark with a colorful past also will have a thriving future.
Fifty-four Bachelor of Business Administration students — 27 from each of the Cartersville and Floyd campuses — taking the operations management course this semester have been charged with creating a comprehensive business plan for the historic Bandy Building for their annual service learning project.
Each year, students in the BBA program take on a project that will allow them to use the skills and knowledge they're gaining in the classroom to help their community in some way, thereby giving them real-world, hands-on experience that will help them with their future careers.
"The project prepares the students for not only operations but also entrepreneurship," BBA Program Coordinator Mecole Ledbetter said, noting their academic focus is either health care management or logistics and supply chain management. "It allows students to project future business operations and helps students with understanding all aspects of operations. It also gives students real-world experience in redesigning an existing business and its past operations. Students are honored in knowing that they may be playing a huge part in the future success of the Bandy Building."
In 1940, the tufted textile industry was booming across northwest Georgia, and Bartow County business leader B.J. Bandy worked to meet the growing demand for tufted robes, rugs and other products by expanding his business, Bartow Textiles, with construction of what was reportedly the largest chenille factory in the world, the Bandy Building, according to a news release.
Today, the 47,000-square-foot landmark is owned by John Lewis, a developer and property manager who has restored more than 30 offices and buildings in downtown Cartersville, earning him the Georgia Cities Foundation’s Renaissance Award in 2012.
Lewis wants to further renovate and repurpose the building, which currently is home to a salon, an art studio and a photography studio.
The collaboration between the owner and GHC came about when Slattery Co. founder and CEO Joseph Slattery reached out to the college's business program looking for interns.
"Joseph Slattery was invited up to Bartow County by John Lewis to view the Bandy Building and to provide his expert advice on how to market the building," Ledbetter said. "Slattery suggested that John partner with a college for interns who may possess the skill needed to develop a plan to repurpose the building. The plan will include sales, marketing, operations, names of possible tenant types and will get into the financial cost of renovations."
Ledbetter thought Slattery's ideas would be a perfect fit for students in the operations management classes led by professor Denie Burks.
"Through our discussion, I realized that this project would require more than just an intern or two but rather a full class that could adopt this as a hands-on learning and execution project," Ledbetter said, adding it should be completed during the 15-week semester but "has the potential to extend into spring semester if needed."
"The project will allow students to better understand the management processes and how they work together and independently," Burks said in the release. "It will require teamwork and collaboration, communication and brainstorming as well as patience and respect for each person’s individual opinion and input."
Trent Mull, a business student on the Cartersville campus, is geared up for the challenge presented by the repurposing project.
"It’s an amazing opportunity for us as a cohort to have real-world application of the skills that we are learning in our classes," he said. "I believe I speak for the cohort when I say that we are excited; we are determined; and we are honored to be given the opportunity to hopefully give the people of Cartersville and the surrounding area a building they can be proud of."
Slattery also hopes the students and the community as a whole will benefit from the creative class assignment.
"While most similar college projects are conceptual in nature, John Lewis has presented GHC with a hands-on opportunity that, if effectively applied, will produce benefits for the students, GHC, John S. Lewis Property Management, the city of Cartersville and Bartow County," he said in the release.