Housatonic Community College’s offering area businesses free access to a Fortune 500-type strategic planning tool. has won the college finalist status in the prestigious national Bellwether Award competition.

Housatonic  is offering companies free use of OneSource, the worldwide leader in the high-end business research field. OneSource delivers business information on more than 27 million companies worldwide. That information can be used to identify industry trends, markets for new products, potential customers, potential competition, and sales prospects. In addition, it can be used to develop strategic marketing plans based on this information – everything a company needs to survive in a global economy that is leaving domestic industries behind.

HCC one of ten finalists in the competition’s Planning, Governance and Finance category. It is the only community college in the world to have access to OneSource.

OneSource has been well received by the business community. One area company, the Schwerdtle Stamp Co., used OneSource for product development work. This helped the Schwerdtle increase its new market revenues by more than 60 percent in a single year.

“One of the areas we looked at was branding irons, which traditionally was a very small part of our business,” said Schwerdtle President Kathy Saint. “New government regulations require that all wooden pallets used for international shipments be marked to indicate that they’ve been heat-treated for bugs. We started getting calls from pallet manufacturers asking about our branding irons and we soon realized that nothing else on the market was robust enough for this particular application.”

“It seemed like a good opportunity, but we wanted to validate the theory before we invested our resources,” she recalled. “Using industry analyst reports and company profiles available to us through OneSource, we quickly discovered that wooden pallet branding irons represented a huge new opportunity.”

OneSource helped Saint discover that there are over 2,000 pallet manufacturers in the US, 2 billion pallets in the world with 700 million in the US alone, and 400 million new pallets manufactured each year. And even those that aren’t used in international shipping are heat-treated because it’s more efficient from a logistics point of view.

Subsequently, Saint has launched and experienced the 60 percent revenue increase.

Saint sees the type of information OneSource offers as essential to the survival of companies like hers.  “To survive in the global economy, we need to identify markets and explore them for possibilities, taking into account competition, anticipated sales volume, competition.” she said. “To do this, we need access to, the type of in-depth information that the multinationals have access to.”

“Once you have this information, you can identify your market and you can focus the efforts of your entire company on capturing this market,” she said.
The Bellwether Awards are an integral part of the Community College Futures Assembly, established in 1995.  The Assembly is sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida and focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that other colleges might find worthy of replicating.  

The awards are given annually in three categories to colleges with outstanding and innovative programs or practices. They have been compared to football's Heisman Award because the contest is competitively judged and are awarded by peers in community colleges.