Shreveport welcomed over 60 Harvard business school students this past week. During their visits they helped 11 local businesses from Holy Angels to the Shreveport Regional Airport.

“What we’re doing here, we’re helping small businesses in the city, primarily with their business strategy and other problems that they’re having,” said Monami Chakraborty, Harvard Business School student. “HBS is around 1000 people, but we are around 70 to 80 here in Shreveport, the others are in different parts of the country, specifically cities where we usually don’t go and visit. So it’s a new flavor, new culture, new sorts of businesses and new sorts of problems for tackling.”

Each business highlighted in this 11-day period was aided by five to six Harvard Master of Business students to help facilitate new perspectives and business strategies.

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Harvard business students speaking to Mayor Adrian Perkins

Harvard business students speaking to Mayor Adrian Perkins

Holy Angels was one of the businesses highlighted for AngelWorks which offers day program services for current residential clients and for individuals with disabilities who live in the community and are at least 18 years of age.

“We are really proud and honored that Harvard chose, I guess what you would think an unlikely assignment but they honored Holy Angels and the individuals with disabilities by choosing us,” said Laurie Boswell, CEO of Holy Angels. “They honored all our hard work presenting their retail products and services to the community.”

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Harvard business students interacting during a private reception.

Harvard business students interacting during a private reception.

“I was very aggressive in recruiting this program here,” said Mayor Adrian Perkins. “I knew the impact it could have not just on students being exposed to cities like Shreveport, but Shreveport benefiting from that type of talent.”

Students like Frederick Lamontagne and Brannon Jones worked in a group to help the Shreveport Regional Airport attract customers. Through their 10 days at the airport they created a plan to entice fliers to choose Shreveport.

Stacy Kuba, Deputy Director of Airports for the Shreveport Airport Authority said, “the dedication and hard work on their project while they were here was impressive and very much appreciated. The information from the results of their project will be used for the continued improvement of the airport in the future.”

“It’s the first thing people see when they arrive in Shreveport, and it’s the last thing they see when they’re on their way out,” said Lamontagne. “The Shreveport Regional Airport is a real hub for the city.”

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Howard Yang, Daye Kim, Dr. Heiss Gibson and Samrath Oberoi. These are students and the professor from Harvard Business School.

Howard Yang, Daye Kim, Dr. Heiss Gibson and Samrath Oberoi. These are students and the professor from Harvard Business School.

While in Shreveport these students not only aided local businesses but were able to embrace the southern culture.

“We are not used to being in smaller cities and seeing what life is like and what it means to live in a different, not big city on the coast,” said Shaq Walker, Harvard Business School student. “One thing that I noticed is a lot of people, they’re not looking for what’s the biggest thing, it’s like I have to work to provide for myself and my family and to make a difference in my local community. For me, I thought that was extremely valuable.

“I think you’re gonna to see Shreveport grow very, very fast. There’s gonna to be a lot of growth.”

Makenzie Boucher is a reporter with the Shreveport Times. Contact her at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Harvard Business School made a visit to Shreveport to help businesses