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CHAMPAIGN — If you’ve got a business with a problem to solve, the University of Illinois has got a deal for you.

The Gies College of Business is inviting dozens of companies, start-ups and nonprofit organizations to document their problems for hundreds of business students to tackle and solve — for free.

Business students working in small teams will work on about 88 projects during the fall semester and dozens more projects will be taken on during the spring semester, said Marissa Siero, the college’s corporate engagement and programs manager.

Businesses can present a wide range of issues, among them a market changed by the pandemic and the need to reach customers in new ways, Siero said.

“Our students excel in data and technology problems, marketing, market assessments, financial modeling and most core general business problems,” she said.

Gies students have taken on such projects before, but not in this volume, according to Siero.

About 800 business students in their junior year will be participating through a required “Business in Action” course newly built into the core curriculum, Siero said.

Not only is the college launching what Siero contended is the largest experiential learning course in the nation, it’s a great way for the college to serve the community and businesses of central Illinois.

“Learning by doing is built into the Gies DNA, and we’re proud to be a leader in this area,” said Andrew Allen, director of the Magelli Office of Experiential Learning, the office that manages experiential learning at Gies.

The “Business in Action” course is intended to help students learn to work as part of a team, develop strategies to solve complex problems and prepare to share their stories with recruiters, he said.

The course is also intended to prepare students to give and respond to feedback and present their findings to clients.

Businesses interested in participating are being asked to fill out a project submission form on the Gies College of Business website.

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