Business lessons from the food industry shared at 20th Annual BDC

Business Conference1SUNY New Paltz was the site of a Northeast Regional American Marketing Association (AMA) conference on Nov. 4, as students and business leaders gathered for the College’s 20th Annual Business Development Conference (BDC).

For this year’s conference the Executive Board of the New Paltz AMA chapter brought together a slate of speakers with ties to the food industry, in a series offering a widening perspective that began with the importance of cultivating local food and beverage businesses and led up to a conversation about global food retailing.

“The AMA Executive Board put in countless hours preparing for today’s conference, their biggest event of the year,” said AMA Faculty Advisor Russell Zwanka. “The AMA is being led by an excellent group of students.”

This year’s conference not only attracted speakers from across the food industry; students from multiple colleges and universities beyond SUNY New Paltz were in attendance as well, including some from as far as UMass Amherst and Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

“The great thing about this year’s conference is that we were able to bring in students from other schools,” said New Paltz AMA Executive Vice President Evan Wolff ’16 (Marketing / Management). “Our Business Development Conference is registered as a regional conference with the AMA, and one of our long-standing goals has been to expand attendance from other colleges in the area. Our ability to begin doing so this year is a testament to the quality of our speakers and the hard work of our team.”

Gottlieb Business ConferenceLaurence Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC), kicked off the program with a discussion of recent efforts to strengthen the roots of the local and farm-to-table food and beverage industries. Nels Leader, vice president of Bread Alone Bakery, shared from his experiences growing his business in a challenging environment. Heidi Reale of Price Chopper and Tom Urtz of ShopRite offered separate talks about marketing and operating large retail food businesses, and the day’s lectures concluded with Michael Sansolo, Research Director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Council, who brought an international business perspective to the theme of the day.

“Today’s speakers are making a significant donation of their time, and they’re doing it as an investment in this group of students,” Zwanka said. “They are giving their time in hopes of imparting some knowledge back to you, for you to use in contributing to the regional, national and global future of industry.”

This year’s Business Development Conference was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of the HVEDC. ShopRite, Price Chopper, Bread Alone Bakery, McGillicuddy’s, Timely Signs, Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils, the American Marketing Association, the Student Association and the School of Business.

About the SUNY New Paltz American Marketing Association chapter

The SUNY New Paltz AMA has grown to become the largest student club in the School of Business, with an average membership of about 80 students per semester. AMA membership gives students the opportunity to connect with regional business leaders, participate in professional development conferences and complete AMA Certificate Programs, which supplement their education and make them more attractive to prospective employers after graduation. Over the years, the chapter has completed dozens of market projects for regional organizations including Families of New Paltz and the New Paltz and Ulster County Chambers of Commerce. In 2015 the New Paltz AMA was named the eighth-ranked national chapter at the AMA International Collegiate Conference, from a field including AMAs from more than 350 U.S. colleges and universities.