ASU opens Dawson Capital Markets Lab

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 429 views 

It may be a long way from the first floor of the Delta Center for Economic Development in Jonesboro to the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City, but the technology now available to Arkansas State University finance students puts them in a position to make that trip.

Nearly 70 members of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity Thursday night (Jan. 14) to see the Dawson Capital Markets Lab firsthand.

The facility has the function of a classroom, but has the feel of a trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange with a stock ticker on the wall.

Arkansas State University College of Business Associate Dean Dr. Jim Washam said the 38 computers in the classroom are all networked together and are available for use. Washam said students use a program called FactSet, which allows the students to see a multitude of data. With two clicks on a computer, a student can get background information on a company within seconds.

“With those two clicks, I can get information on J.B. Hunt for the past 20 years,” Washam said.

The database also has information on companies, including supply chains, credit ratings, outstanding debt and revenue exposure by country. The information can then be put into an Excel spreadsheet for reading, while students can get financial information on a 15-minute delay.

Chris Barnes of Yucca Valley, Calif., is a senior studying financial management with an emphasis on accounting. He said the system allows him to learn more in a quicker manner. The data available can show a company’s future including debt structure, operational income and gauge the risk of bonds outstanding.

“The information is crucial,” Barnes said, noting he would have to use Google or read detailed quarterly reports online to study a company for class. “Now I can do two valuations a day.”

Barnes said “knowledge is power” and that the system also includes information on earnings as well as corporate filings. “You have to use the resources. It would be worthless without it,” Barnes said.

The idea for the lab came from Scott and Kay Dawson of Germantown, Tenn., near Memphis. Arkansas State University College of Business Dean Dr. Shane Hunt said the Dawsons, who graduated from the ASU College of Business, gave a six-figure donation in 2014 to help build the lab.

“It is such a wonderful gift,” Dr. Hunt said.

Construction continued in the lab last summer and students moved into the lab in August 2015, officials said.