The competition was hosted by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), at its conference last weekend in San Francisco, Calif.

Laura Hudson, Joshua Sheppard, Xuan Qin, and Andrew Summerlin won second place with their case, "Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery," which focused on the Birmingham, Ala., retailer.  The judges complimented the students on their case, noting that it would be extremely useful for aspiring entrepreneurs to analyze because it highlighted many critical challenges that arise when opening a new business.  Second place included a $1,000 prize.

M.B.A. student Meg Lozner won fifth place with her case, "Southern Grits to Haute Cuisine:  Much More Than a Taste of the South," to highlight how the Birmingham, Ala., region can be marketed nationally as a center for culinary tourism, based on its local restaurant and farmer's market scene.  This is the second year in a row that Lozner has been a finalist, making her the only student in the history of the competition to achieve this recognition. 

"We are very proud of the hard work our MBA students," said Charles Carson, associate dean of the Brock School of Business.  "They took consulting projects they conducted as part of one of our M.B.A. classes and continued working on them to prepare them for this competition.  Their hard work paid off by providing them with a unique experience to present to a distinguished group of judges, who encouraged them publish their cases." 

Other schools with finalists in the competition included Baylor University, Bryant University (Rhode Island), Hyderabad University (India), and Loyola Marymount University.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.