and the real world."
Something new and exciting is happening within the Division of Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships with the addition of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The South Central Region SBDC is part of a national network of Small Business Development Centers aimed at assisting businesses from starting up to expanding services to succession planning. While the SBDC does not provide funding, they do offer professional, one-on-one consulting to help their clients accomplish their goals. All services are provided completely free of charge to the business.
SBDC is funded by the Small Business Administration and regional support partners. Additional grants are awarded to the SBDC, such as the TAP grant, which is a Turn-Around Program grant aimed at keeping distressed companies open; The Entrepreneur Doorway Program whose vision is, “To facilitate and nurture a new system where people of color (refugee, immigrants and American minority) can access information, education and resources for developing and growing their business”, and several others. These programs all fall in line with the entrepreneurial focus of the SBDC.
Throughout the year the SBDC budgets to utilize over 3200 hours of consulting work with local firms. They also aim to help obtain over $10 million in capital for their clients. Director Mike Nolan has been a strong addition to the Small Business Development Center. Nolan, an entrepreneur at heart, has started and sold two successful companies. He received his MBA from the Melbourne School of Business. While achieving success in the business environment, Nolan also has a great passion to share his knowledge which he has been able to do by teaching classes at Minnesota State University, Mankato; Rasmussen College; and Otto Beisheim School of Management near Koblenz, Germany. As Director of the SBDC, Nolan sees this as a great opportunity to help students achieve success of their own, “Entrepreneurship is what I have decided to devote my life to, teaching is how I can use my drive to help students.”
In addition, Program Coordinator Julie Nelson has 14 years of experience in the economic and business development arena. Previously, she led business attraction and retention activities for Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation.
Businesses across the region are gaining a valuable competitive advantage by working with the Small Business Development Center. Consultants with the SBDC have significant experience in many areas of business that small business owners may not have. By offering these services free of charge, it gives their clients a great advantage. So far this year SBDC has assisted in raising over $4 million in capital for area small businesses, and has assisted in creating or retaining an estimated 237 jobs. This is all accomplished by spending an average of eight hours per client in free consulting sessions. Local businesses that have worked with SBDC have greatly benefitted in a time where many others have struggled.
As a member of the Strategic Partnerships Division, the SBDC is able to both extend their reach and help students gain valuable experience and opportunities. Currently there are two MBA students working as consultants for the SBDC. Student consultants work side by side with professionals who are able to share their knowledge with the students. The work done by these consultants allows the students to use the skills they have been developing through their education and to apply it to actual businesses in the community. Student Consultant Brody Nordland appreciates the chance to use his skills in the real world, “It’s nice to get out and work with real industries, rather than just doing case studies in the classroom.” In one such project, an MBA student from Minnesota State Mankato led a team to do a full market analysis for a company looking to expand within the region. As Nolan describes the partnership with Minnesota State Mankato, “It’s about getting our students involved in the process of growing businesses in communities and creating jobs.” By applying their knowledge and skills they were able to help the company obtain funding to grow within the region.
The positive impact the SBDC has on the University doesn’t just extend to those students that work as consultants. Businesses that partner with SBDC develop a more positive relationship to the University and are excited about the opportunity to hire Minnesota State Mankato students. Nolan views this relationship as a great opportunity for students, “We help businesses create jobs that can be filled by the students when they graduate.”
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True to the mission of the Strategic Partnerships Division is an intensive outreach effort to cultivate Southern Minnesota's specific talent development and research needs. The region has experienced the Minnesota State University reputation of quality degree programs when students attend the University in Mankato. However, the University isn't always recognized as a local community asset.
Already in progress, Bob Hoffman, Vice President of Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships and Ann Goebel, Director of Strategic Partnerships are hitting the road to meet with leaders in 20 cities. These include Worthington, Jackson, Windom, St. James, New Ulm, St. Peter, Fairmont, Blue Earth, Lake Crystal, Le Sueur, New Prague, Faribault, Waseca, Owatonna, Albert Lea, Austin, Rochester, Winnebago, Belle Plaine and Jordan.
Listening is the first objective. These firsthand voices of regional constituencies will be brought back to best align resources for a timely response. According to Goebel, "We can't always wait for broad sweeping reports to define these immediate applied needs. As each community pocket is different, it is important to understand their individual needs."
Matching identified needs to a university response is the second objective. The vision is to provide intake from regional communities to leverage the University's faculty and student strengths so they may accomplish action-oriented solutions. These may range from connecting internships, co-op experiences, student and faculty research, access to the various centers to methods of disseminating faculty knowledge. Often, businesses find it difficult to access Minnesota State University when seeking interns. Students stand to benefit greatly from new relationships built within the business communities surrounding Mankato. Many companies are interested in offering internships and/or co-ops for students, but do not know how to initiate the process.
Resources are precious all around. When solutions to the issues exceed current resources, having well defined needs will assist in pursuing external funding for new innovative projects, programming or partnerships.
Relationships will become stronger, and that will have a positive impact on both the community and the University. Operation Southern Sweep has a long range vision as we hope to play a vital role in the economic engines of our communities.
Listed below are several centers at Minnesota State Mankato ready to engage with you:
- Small Business Development Center
- Center for Applied Social Services
- Center on Aging
- Center for School-University Partnerships
- Force Science Research Center
- International Renewable Energy Technology Institute (IRETI)
- Kessel Institute for the Study of Peace and Change
- Minnesota Center for Automotive Research
- Minnesota Center for Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence
- Minnesota Center for Transportation Research
- Minnesota Modeling and Simulation Center
- Minnesota Rapid Prototyping & Production Center
- Space Image Processing Center
- Water Resources Center
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Through the years, we have been very fortunate to have worked closely with several students in the preparation of our electronic newsletter and the initial development of our website. They have done the interviewing/writing of the articles and the design, layout and publishing the finished product. Below are their stories.
I met Bob and Cindy during my final year of undergraduate at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I was taking a technical communication class that required a final project when I was presented the chance to develop a newsletter for Strategic Partnerships. I teamed up with a fellow classmate and was given the opportunity to develop my skills in a work environment. It was a great learning experience to work through the newsletter from conception to delivery. I also felt more involved in the University community working on the newsletter. I was able to learn more about what was going on at Minnesota State Mankato and network while researching for the newsletter. I continued with the newsletter the following semester when I graduated.
However, my relationship with Strategic Partnerships did not end there. The next fall I came back to Bob and Cindy seeking a reference letter for law school. They took time to inquire about my decision and wrote a great reference letter. A former professor who I built a stronger relationship with through the newsletter also wrote a reference letter. I ultimately was accepted into my top choice school with a full scholarship and am now in my second year of law school. Working on the newsletter definitely helped build some strategic partnerships of my own and was a simple choice that has affected my life more than I could have ever imagined.
I'm Rick King-Quale and I began work with the Strategic Partnerships Division in the fall of 2008, creating the division’s first e-newsletter as a final project for a Desktop Publishing course in my minor of English with Creative Writing emphasis. My relationship with Strategic Partnerships transitioned into an on-campus internship for my Communication Studies major during the summer of 2009 when I was given the responsibility of creating the content for the summer edition of the newsletter. Upon my graduation in December of 2009, I established a relationship with the division as the newsletter writer on contract and maintained that relationship for another full year. It was my honor to write the first seven issues of the newsletter.
I have had the privilege of experiencing, first-hand, the partnerships created by this division. Through my work writing the newsletter, I’ve met and interviewed CEOs and Vice Presidents of numerous successful companies and educational institutions, as well as current and former representatives of the U.S. Congress, the Minnesota House and Senate, and local government. I also secured further contract writing work with the Partnership for Regional Competitiveness Southern Minnesota through the Center for Rural Policy and Development through connections with the division.
My experiences with the Strategic Partnerships Division enriched my education and have accelerated my professional life as I’ve experienced the power of partnerships!
I am Kathi Carter, a senior in Technical Communications at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I began working with Strategic Partnerships in the summer of 2009. They offered me an internship opportunity to redesign the appearance of their newsletter. Later, I was also given the responsibility of redesigning their website. This internship gave me the opportunity to develop my editing, visual design, team working and web design skills in a real world setting. It has been a pleasure to work with such a talented team—Bob Hoffman, Cindy Hanson and Rick King-Quale—for the past two years.
Because of my work with Strategic Partnerships, I was given the opportunity to design a website for IRETIMN and have been working as a consultant with Rick King-Quale publishing the Partners Update Newsletter for the Partnership for Regional Competitiveness - Southern Minnesota for the past year and a half. As my connections continue to grow from this relationship with Strategic Partnerships, I am hoping to start my own home-based business after I finish school.
The experiences and opportunities that I have had while working with Strategic Partnerships have definitely enhanced my education and professional life.
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Following a national search, we welcomed Becky Copper-Glenz as Dean of the College of Extended Learning, effective July 1, 2011.
Becky joined Minnesota State University, Mankato, in August, 2009 as the Director of Distributed Learning. Previously, she served as:
- Director of Admissions for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs
- Faculty Associate, Director, and Coordinator in Distance Learning Programs at Capella, Walden University and the College of St. Scholastica
- Dr. Copper-Glenz received her Doctorate of Education in Leadership from Saint Mary's University in May, 2011
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Beginning with our fourth year of classes, the location at 7700 France Ave. South in Edina will soon double its space to 27,000 square feet. Our Twin Cities location is key to serving traditional and non-traditional students in today’s economy. Presently some of the programs in Edina include the master of business administration, master of public administration, master’s degrees in education, nursing, and engineering. Beginning in September, a cohort for the Doctorate of Educational Leadership is being offered. Plans for the fall of 2012 include offering a Doctorate in Nursing Practice. This location avails us to business, industry, government and nonprofit requests for enhancement of present skills, development of new skills and completion of degrees.