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Largest Student-Owned Business Celebrates Four Decades at GU

March 27, 2012 – The Corp, which calls itself the largest nonprofit student-owned and operated business in the country, celebrated its 40th anniversary at Georgetown this past weekend.

Today the organization, which is independent of the university, employs more than 200 students and has yearly revenues exceeding $4 million.

The organization runs convenience stores (Vital Vittles and Hoya Snaxa) and coffee shops (Midnight MUG and Uncommon Grounds) as well as a printing service, Corp Ink; a transportation service to airports and Union Station during the holidays (Corp Shuttles); and a Corp Storage facility.

The Corp even has its own human resources, IT, marketing and accounting departments.

“It’s amazing that we’ve been around for 40 years,” says Andrea Wallach (NHS’13), director of Midnight MUG and a three-year Corp member. “It’s amazing how different we are now than we were 10 years ago and 10 years before that.”

Early Days

Officially incorporated on March 6, 1972, The Corp was the brainchild of then-student body president Roger Cochetti (F’72) and vice president, Nancy Kent (C’72).

The organization immediately began offering services to the university community.

It created a Record Co-op, where albums were exchanged, the Furniture Co-op, which provided more affordable furniture options, and Corp Travel, which helped students organize vacations.

Beyond Healy Gates

“Students serving students,” is still one of The Corp’s core missions, but these days it is also serving the surrounding community.

“In the past couple of years with our Service and Outreach Committee, we really started to make a push to expand beyond the front gates,” says Michael West (C’13), The Corp’s newly elected CEO. “One of the biggest things, when I took over, was saying that we’re more than coffee and grocery. We want to give everything that we have in every way that we can.”

That was evident during the organization’s 40th anniversary celebrations, which kicked off with an afternoon of service by The Corp, Hoyas for RBI and D.C. Reads this past Friday in the Kenilworth neighborhood.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

A highlight of anniversary events included a student Lecture Fund-sponsored talk on Friday by Ted Leonsis (C’77), the Internet pioneer, sports team owner, entrepreneur and vice chairman emeritus of AOL.

“It started here on the campus of Georgetown University,” he said. He and his roommate began selling snow cones to tourists during the country’s bicentennial celebrations in the summer of 1976.

“All of the job creation in our country comes from small businesses,” he said. “We want to celebrate and make it easier for young people to get financed and pursue their aspirations and dreams.”

The Corp has a social as well as an entrepreneurial aspect.

“Freshman year, I was the kid who stayed in my room a lot,” West says. “Then I got into The Corp my sophomore year, and it was like I had found my niche, I had found my family.”
 

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