CubaNews / October 2004
By Larry Luxner
Ohio Northern University has established a Center for Cuban Business Stu-dies “to serve the needs of businesses, government agencies, researchers, faculty, students and others interested in the current and future state of Cuban commercial affairs.”
Terry L. Maris, executive director of the Cuba Center and dean of ONU’s College of Business Administration, said the university has been granted a license by the U.S. Trea-sury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to conduct credit study programs in Cuba for ONU students. He added that ONU has also forged links with Cuban university researchers.
“We are committed to preparing members of both the U.S. and Cuban business communities for a peaceful and successful transition to a Cuban free-market economy,” said Maris, telling CubaNews the center “was created to mobilize Cuban business and policy research, and to conduct advisory projects.”
Maris hopes an initial $2,500 grant from Ohio State University and matching funds from ONU will be supplemented by funding from corporate and government sources.
The center’s activities will focus on conducting research into regional and international public policy questions linked to Cuba; communicating the results of that research to the public, government agencies, legislative bodies, business, industry and the academic community, and providing advice and suggestions “upon request and in confidence” to government agencies and the private sector.
ONU’s College of Business Administration is accredited by AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and offers majors in accounting, management, marketing and international business and economics.
Running the Cuba Center is Maris, a former management consultant who has lectured and conducted research in more than 60 countries. Under license from OFAC, Maris visits Havana frequently to meet with local faculty, administrators, students, government officials and executives of state and mixed enterprises.
The Cuba Center is housed at the universitiy's James F. Dicke Hall. In addition to 200 network connections, the building offers 100% wireless coverage and is linked to the campus fiberoptic backbone via gigabit Ethernet.
Classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art instructional technology. Students also have available a computer classroom, compu-ter lab, computer workstations and kiosks, as well as a range of support services like high-speed network laser printing, document scanning, CD-ROM burning, desktop publishing, digital photography and videoconferencing.
Among other things, the Cuba Center will conduct original research on timely and pertinent topics that have a high value for practical application; closely monitor developments in Cuba that have potential commercial or economic implications for various sectors of the American business community; conduct Cuba-related briefings, workshops, and symposia in order to raise awareness among business and government leaders, and engage in commissioned studies at the request of parties interested in doing business with Cuba.
The Cuba Center aims to produce a collection of Cuban case studies to be used for educational and training purposes; it’ll also host an annual business paper competition to foster awareness of the island’s trade potential.
The center is currently researching a number of issues including the following: telecommunications needs and opportunities in a post-transition Cuba; energy trade with the United States, and analysis of the projected impact of Cuba’s transition to a market economy on Cuba’s energy sector.
Advisory services to be offered by the Cuba Center include economic analysis, market research, business environment analysis, location analyis, business partner research, social/demographic analysis, risk assessment, import/export, microenterprise development and workforce training.