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A group of Utah State University business students has a fall service project that’s a pretty far cry from the typical leaf-raking.

Huntsman Marketing Association students are looking for up to 40 valley businesses who want to build a website or spruce up their current ones.

“One of the pillars of the Huntsman School is service,” said Jill Richardson, HMA president. “We do have so many companies that already come to us requesting help with social media and websites that we thought we could teach students how to make a website and then we could also help the community.”

Jamie Andrus, president and CEO of the Cache Chamber of Commerce, appreciated the students’ efforts reaching out to local businesses.

“I think it sounds like a phenomenal service, especially for the small businesses. They definitely need the help to have a website,” said Andrus, who used to work for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. “Most people don’t even use phone books anymore to look up businesses, so I think it’s really important. I know there would be a need, always, for building websites or renovating.”

Richardson talked about the importance of businesses maintaining a website.

“In marketing, it’s crucial to have a good online presence, whether that be your own website as a business or social media,” she said. “We know that a good website can completely change a business.”

Richardson said to those local business owners that might be on the fence about changing their website, HMA can help them with search engine optimization.

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“The way that we build these websites, this can help you return the highest listing on a Google search,” she said.

Richardson said the club decided to cap the number of businesses it will help at 40 to allow club members to work one-on-one with business owners.

Eric Schulz, HMA club adviser and senior lecturer in the Huntsman School, said working with businesses on websites gives students “real-world experience.”

“Nothing can beat actually doing a project rather than just learning about a project,” he said. “This is a great way to kind of kill two birds with one stone — not only do we get to help some businesses that need to get online, but it also gives the students a real sense of satisfaction that they’re actually doing something that’s visible out in the world.”

Business owners who are interested can inquire to the HMA via email. Once business owners apply they will receive an initial consultation from the HMA.

HMA is hosting at least one meeting in November to help business owners one-on-one with their website.

Businesses will have to cover the ongoing costs of their new website: Domain names cost $13 a year, and hosting fees will be $9 a month, according to HMA.

Businesses owners interested in talking to the HMA about work on their website should contact [email protected].

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