Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pricing Methods for a Municipal Government Event Center

Individual Economic Summary: Pricing Methods for a Municipal Government Event Center
Daniel J. Stone
Ohio Dominican University

In July 2007, I returned to my home state of South Carolina after being away for 15 years with the last three being in the Tokyo, Japan area as an English Teacher on the prestigious Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. With an undergraduate degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, I eventually found work at the City of Greer in one of their newly created positions, Events Supervisor. On the mainstream level, the City of Greer was used as one of the props for the George Clooney movie, "Leatherheads" and since 1992, just outside of the City of Greer, German automaker, BMW has been manufacturing vehicles. Greer had just broke ground on a multi-million dollar construction project, Greer City Hall. This project included a multi-room events center, amphitheater, and gazebo (City of Greer, 2013).

My first assignment was to conduct market research to find out the fair market value for renting out the new spaces that were set to go online in the Fall of 2008. After meeting several times with the City Manager throughout the winter and spring of 2008, my findings were presented to the Greer City Council at the annual fee schedule meeting in the Summer of 2008. (Appendix A). In retrospect, the City of Greer's new event center and park operated in a monopolistic competition environment. When local hotels and churches are included, there is a large number of event hall operators acting independently, market entry and exit was not difficult, services were differentiated by location, capacity of event hall and the ability to have an event hall expanded to two or three rooms and be able to use a kitchenette, for example. While customers chose among products, non-price competition was essential as well. For example, a City of Greer resident received a discount.

Since a monopolistic competition environment has the characteristic of earning above normal profits which invites new entrants to the market, it appears that one other event hall began operations after the City of Greer's event center went online in October 2008. Furthermore, since new entrants will cause the City of Greer's demand curve to shift down and to the left and the Greater Greer supply curve to shift out and to the right, it is interesting to note that the prices that I presented in 2008 are the same in 2013 (Appendix B).

Considering that the position that I founded was eliminated among a few other newly created positions by the City of Greer due to the economic downturn known as The Great Recession of 2008, the supply and demand has not caused the prices to change. An existing competitor is still operating with business as usual. Barometric price leadership would suggest that one firm changes their price in response to economic conditions. But, five years and one of the most severe economic conditions since the Depression and the prices have stayed the same.

In conclusion, pricing of an event center managed by a government entity in a small town in the rural and small state of South Carolina comprises of the elements of a monopolistic competitor environment. Typically, the prices for goods and services will change depending on supply or demand. I suspect that due to the cumbersome nature of changing prices due to the annual fee schedule meeting coupled by the fact that the City of Greer benefits when other businesses such as their competitors are successful due to sales tax collections that the prices were set where they were desired by the Greater Greer area in 2008 and today. At the same time, if the City of Greer's event center does not remain profitable due to prices being too high, they can offset the loss with sales tax collections from the businesses in the municipality such as their competitors. Nevertheless, the City of Greer is serving its purpose as defined by Thomas Jefferson by enabling their residents a safe place to carry out an event. However, government entities are not businesses that are concerned with their bottom line and fall short in the implementation of money making activities. At present, the City of Greer's Recreation Department and Greenville Country Recreation District are at odds over the use of facilities and taxes to support those facilities (Greenville, 2013).

City of Greer. (2013). Events Center at Greer City Hall. Retrieved from City of Greer official website:
Greenville (2013). County-rec district merger expected to raises Greer taxes. Retrieved from website: 306200056/County-rec-district-merger-expected-raises-Greer-taxes
Keat, Paul G. and Philip L.Y. Young, Managerial Economics: Economic Tools for Today’s Decision Makers, 6th Ed. New York: Prentice Hall, 2009.

Two Birds One Stone Learning, LLC

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Suggestions on Learning and Improving your English

There are many ways to learn and improve your English.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Enroll in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class.  Two Birds One Stone Learning is one of the few organizations offering a class in Columbus this summer.  To learn more about this class, please visit: Summer English Conversation Small Group

2.  Make a personal schedule to practice English.  Two Birds One Stone Learning works with students with private lessons either in person or online.

3.  Watch television programs in English.

4.  Listen to the radio in English.

5.  Practice your English with your family.

6.  Practice your English at work.

7.  Practice English at least one hour a day.

8.  Practice your English anytime you have a chance.  Please see our previous entry in this blog at
Language Learners: What is your level of responsibility for learning?   Remember, Be "8x" in your learning.

Two Birds One Stone Learning is based in Columbus, Ohio, but available in person or online.  To see if we are good for you, your family, or your business, contact Daniel Stone, Principal Consultant at or visit our website.   

Monday, June 8, 2015

Language Learners: What is your level of responsibility for learning?

As language learners move from the beginner to intermediate and eventually to the advanced stages of their learning process, the responsibility for learning shifts from the teacher to the student. Setting realistic goals and understanding your level of responsibility during the learning process will allow you to think and become the second language you are striving for.

First, language learners need to set realistic goals. One of the biggest mistakes a language learner can make is to compare themselves to others and visa versa. Each person takes in and digests a second language differently therefore, we must compare ourselves to ourselves. For example, when we were a language learner in our home country, our ability was at level "X". Now, you have an opportunity to study a second language in a school environment in the country where the the language is spoken as a first language. It simply is not realistic to assume that after a period of three to six months that you will be able to speak the second language fluently. When you set goals, they have to be realistic and measurable. Set a series of short-term goals which ultimately will lead to your long-term goal. 

Maybe you'd like to order lunch at Subway but can't express yourself throughout the process? Find a way to get over this hurdle. Achieving this short-term goal is a boost to your confidence which is needed when you fall short on sophisticated vocabulary words, the conjugation of irregular verbs, and get overwhelmed with the various grammar points. The best way to measure your knowledge in English for example is by taking the TOEFL and TOEIC tests. Be prepared to take these tests more than once to achieve the desired score and stay positive by finding success in short-term projects.

Next, as language learners, you need to understand our responsibility for learning. At the beginner level, language learners are responsible for 25% while the instructor makes up the remaining 75%. In the intermediate level, the responsibility for learning is shared at 50-50. At the advanced level, language learners are responsible for 75% while the instructor makes up the remaining 25%.

With more and more of the responsibility being bore by the the language learner, these five tips for learning a second language will allow you to fill in the gaps as you move forward with your second language.

1. Find a structured course and stick with it. Whenever I take on a student for a private lesson, the lesson usually ends with them thanking me since for the past six months, they have been studying English by themselves and learned more in a one-hour tutoring session with me than they did in those six months. The key is to have structure and a sense of purpose that is measurable and specific. For example, "I am studying English because when I take a trip this summer to Australia, I do not want to take this trip with a tour. I want to travel independently." This was the case for my adult students in Japan. Or, "I want to return to my home country and work for a foreign company and the prerequisite is to have "X" score on the TOEIC in order to be considered."

2. Find what works for you. For me, I love to travel, try different kinds of food, watch sporting events and read about historical events. By identifying my hobbies, I was able to make language learning interesting when I became burnt out on the academic portion of my language learning studies. As a result, I continued to learn and remained grounded in my second language.

3. Be "8x". Years ago, a computer's hard-drive read CDs at a certain speed. Then the next generation of computers stated that the computers could read CDs at 2x the speed, or twice as much or twice as fast. I look at many language learners who perform at 1 or 2 "x", meaning that they attend a weekly class, maybe, and do some English-related homework. This is, they think, "enough." Since the language learner's responsibility grows as they become more and more advanced, this is not enough. Therefore, we must be 8x meaning we need to take advantage of every opportunity at our disposal. Structured learning courses may have computer-based programs that will allow extra repetition in troubled areas of our learning. Study halls may be available where we can ask the instructor for one-on-one instruction is another possibility. Maybe offering to exchange an hour of English conversation for an hour of advice on traveling in your home country is another way to taking in extra instruction.

Other ways are if you ride the bus to school, ask the person sitting next to you about the recent game. Explain that you are new to the area and don't know much about the game but know that the locals follow it and you are interested. Or, if striking up conversation with strangers is not for you, listen to NPR or other local talk shows on the radio on your commute to school. Make notes and strike up conversation with your teacher. Find out the weather on the local TV broadcast before school. If you are living in your home country and doing these things aren't possible since English isn't the main language spoken, download English songs, utilize the Internet by watching English-language clips on Youtube or listen to Read online magazines and newspapers. Do more than just the basics. As Chuck Noll, an American Football coach of four world champion teams in the 1970s stated, "Do the basics better than everyone else." In other words, do more than just enough to get by.

4. Make Friends. When I was a language learner in Japan, it was bitter sweet to learn of Japanese people's experiences when they studied English in the US. They had amazing stories of their experiences with American roommates, some even dated Americans, while others had stories of road trips across country. But, there were many Japanese people who said that finding friends were difficult. If they were around my age, I would reply, "If you were in California, why couldn't we have met?" This was because I was the lone American invited to the International Student Association's quarterly potluck party since I would always make friends with international students on campus. One of those friends became my girlfriend which later became my wife. My wife and I were able to learn from each other's home cultures and each other's languages. Now, in my late 30's I remain grounded in my second language as my goal is to express myself to my in-laws and have the opportunity with weekly Internet calls courtesy of Skype.

5. Never Give Up. The best tip is saved for last. Think for a moment about the size of the mountain you're considering to climb when you begin study a second language. One of my favorite saying that I learned in Japan is, "If we fall down seven times, we get up eight times." The key is to follow through and be aware of your goals. I suggest you write your realistic goals down with the date so that you can measure your progress. By doing these things you'll be satisfied with your language learning progress.

In conclusion, don't give up, remain perseverant to get through the baptism of fire of language learning. Keep goals realistic, measurable and understand the responsibility for language learning. Maintain structure, find a plan that works for you, be proactive, make like minded friends and never give up.

Daniel Stone has been a language learner of Japanese since the mid 1990s when he was a US service member serving at Fleet Activities in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa, Japan. Since then, he worked his way through college with financial assistance from the Montgomery GI Bill and earned his bachelor's degree one month before his 30th birthday. At 31, he began his formal language learning in Japan at Bunkyo University in Koshigaya City, Saitama, Japan. Today, he is the owner/operator of a company that trains expats in English, provides test preparation, and assists with the relocation and family support.

Contact Two Birds One Stone Learning to set up a free "getting acquainted" meeting to see if we are right for you.

Daniel Stone, Principal Consultant and Founder

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 300% increase- More of my time as founding Center Director: My philosophy was and is to not have all the students, just the good ones.

International Student Enrollment is complex because there are so many moving parts that are contingent upon so many varying factors.  Branding is key and if your institution is known for not being cognizant to an international person's view towards smoking or have subpar spaces and simply do not have enough space or staffing to support, you will burnout staff and sully your brand along the way.  I recently was asked by the biggest educational institution in town as to why enrollment in one particular nationality saw a 300% increase.

In carrying out a PEST analysis, I was able to provide the following feedback to the top school official at The Ohio State University:

I hope to understand the 300% increase in the Autumn 2011 of Saudi students at our school.  Was it when your school went smoke-free and nearly every Saudi student transfer from your school to my school?

In employing a PEST analysis, this will give you a balanced perspective to what was going on in the world of Intensive English Programming (IEP) in Columbus in 2011.

The political environment in the Middle East in 2011 was very turbulent due to the Arab Spring movement.  Not only was ELS being inundated with the influx of Saudi Arabian Culture Mission (SACM) students which by and far really had no business being issued a F-1 visa due to not really exhibiting anything that would constitute admission to a university in the US, but we were also being approached from abroad by potential students from Syria, Egypt, Libya, etc.  If you were in the Middle East, were under the age of 30 and knew enough English to converse on the phone or had a friend or distant relative in the US, odds were that you were trying to get in the US as a F-1 student, so it seemed.

The economic environment was favorable for an increase in Middle Eastern students due to the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP), managed by SACM, which basically gave just about anyone from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) a chance to study abroad more or less for the cultural experience, not necessarily for admission into a US university.  I would be interested in the figures that you provided of 111 KASP scholars in 2011 and and 117 KASP scholars in 2012 as to how many graduated the American Language Program at Ohio State and matriculated to an undergraduate or graduate program at any school and of course graduated.  At any rate, ELS had to temporarily pause the issuance of F-1 visas in the Fall of 2011 since the service and accountability provided by ELS was uneven as the CEO of ELS announced in 2012.  The student intake from the Middle East with KSA leading the way had simply overwhelmed the company's infrastructure.

The social environment was favorable for an increase in Middle Eastern students to transfer from ELS/Columbus to other area schools that could issue the student an I-20.  This was not due to the smoking policy at Ohio Dominican University (ODU) since this policy had been in effect since 2007.  ODU just wasn't enforcing the smoking policy.  In fact, ODU's Safety and Security team was actually smoking on campus themselves.  Once ELS took occupancy in June 2010, the issue became prevalent but other than the ODU security team tattling to me about a student smoking with no specifics, the smoking issue wasn't a driving factor for students to transfer from ELS/Columbus.  It wasn't till March 2012 when ELS devised a "Three Strikes Policy" which I implemented and caused a ruckus with one particular Chinese woman who had befriended some of the Chinese students at ELS.  The first violator of the "Three Strikes Policy" was a Chinese student.  The same holds true to Chinese students, our 2nd largest demographic behind Saudis.  The first violator had issues adjusting to life as a potential college student in the US and a hapless security team who was hesitant to do their jobs reported him because he would brazenly smoked for the whole world to see.  I did my job and he complained to his Chinese friend.  She was relentless with letters to the ODU President and then to ELS.  Some groups can spoil the good name of the others around them.  While they are not despicable themselves, they are a disgusting reminder to those around them.  This is the problem when people aren't held accountable and when they finally are, it is such a painful and foreign experience that they react in such a shameful way. This is how I compartmentalize the social scene at Ohio Dominican in the flight stage of the venture that I started.

Anyway, the reason that there were so many students transferring from ELS/Columbus was that there was no space for them at ODU.  We expanded to the adult education building on Airport Road which is a stone's throw from the ODU main campus but didn't do so till the Fall 2011 semester.  Ramadan was another reason that there were so many students that transferred from ELS/Columbus to OSU's ALP Program and Capital University's ESL Program.  Their scholarship would not permit them to return home and they were too new to take the ELS session off so they got around it by transferring to OSU and Capital which allowed them to partake in Ramadan and remain in good standing with their F-1 visa.

Lastly, the technological environment was favorable for an increase in Middle Eastern students to transfer from ELS/Columbus since the spaces in the basement of the dorm building that ELS operated out of was cramped, drab, and downright disgusting due to a cracked foundation which caused water damage to books, paper, etc.  The copier would get jammed since the paper curled up due to the moisture, etc.  Students were receiving instruction in classrooms that had substantial amounts of water along the wall in the rug, and the white boards were curling off the wall due to the moisture.  In the Summer of 2011, we relieved this space to a degree by occupying unused classroom space on the ODU main campus.  Then in the Fall 2011 semester, we expanded to the adult ed building which alleviated the space issues.

To better assess the 300% uptick in Saudis, check with the Office of International Affairs (OIA) on transfers into OSU from ELS/Columbus or any other school.  That will likely be part of your number as well as students with initial I-20s arriving from KSA with SACM scholarship letters.  I was transferring students out left and right around the summer of 2011 due to Ramadan and the fact that every four weeks, more students from KSA were arriving or attempting to transfer in and I had no where to put them or enough instructors to teach them, so I gladly sent the students to a different school. My philosophy was and is to not have all the students, just the good ones.

Daniel J. Stone, MBA
Founder and Principal Consultant
Two Birds One Stone Learning, LLC
3700 Riverside Drive, #21861
Columbus, OH  43221
Office:  614-219-9757
Cell/Text:  864-609-7295


Friday, June 5, 2015

Test Taking Tips (General)

1. Bring at least two pens/pencils with good erasers, a calculator with enough batteries and any other resources that your instructor allows you to. Bring a watch to the test with you so that you can better pace yourself.

 2. Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths to relax.

 3. Keep your eyes on your own paper, you don't want to appear to be cheating and cause unnecessary trouble for yourself.

 4. When you first receive your test, do a quick survey of the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time.

 5. Do the easiest problems first. Don't stay on a problem that you are stuck on especially when time is a factor.

 6. Do the problems that have the greatest point values first.

 7. Don't rush but pace yourself. Read the entire question and look for keywords.

 8. Ask the instructor for clarification if you don't understand what they are asking for on the test.

 9. Write legibly. If the grader can't read what you wrote, they'll most likely mark it wrong.

 10. Always read the whole question carefully. Don't make assumptions about what the question might be.

 11. If you don't know an answer, skip it. Go on with the rest of the test and come back to it later. Other parts of the test may have some information that will help you out with that question.

 12. Don't worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.

 13. If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions, only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.

 14. Double check to make sure that you put your first and last name on the test.

Daniel J. Stone, MBA
Founder and Principal Consultant
Two Birds One Stone Learning, LLC
3700 Riverside Drive, #21861
Columbus, OH  43221
Office:  614-219-9757
Cell/Text:  864-609-7295