The Okoboji Entrepreneurship Institute will bring together 24 students from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa at the Lakeside Labs on the shore of West Lake Okoboji from July 30- August 4.
The institute will not only teach the students about how to start and build a business, it also represents a new way to connect Iowans to their three state universities.
At Okoboji, the students will hear from business faculty at the three universities as well as from successful entrepreneurs, including Ted Waitt, Sioux City native, UI alumnus and founder of Gateway Computers.
The institute will also show the budding entrepreneurs that the entire state of Iowa is a fertile market for business, not just Iowa City, Cedar Falls and Des Moines.
The Institute is the brainchild of Tom Bedell, Spirit Lake resident, member of the state board of regents and, as the CEO of Spirit Lake-based Pure Fishing, a successful entrepreneur himself. He said the idea for the institute came out of conversations he had since becoming a regent in 2005 to find ways the three schools can better participate in rural economic development.
The institute is also an example of new ways to form partnerships between the universities and local communities.
Local business and civic organizations are providing various forms of support for the Institute, including paying the 24 students' tuition, and the students will spend the week living in the homes of local residents.
The institute is co-sponsored by the Iowa Lakes Corridor of Opportunity, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Lakes Community College, Buena Vista University, and various county and municipal governments.
The participants are a diverse group of students who come from a variety of backgrounds and majors across each university.
The sessions they will attend in Okoboji include get-togethers with business faculty from all three universities and Q & A sessions with successful Iowa entrepreneurs. Waitt will meet with the students on August 2.
The students will also break into six teams and spend their mornings playing a computer simulation in which they start a computer company and see which team can make the company grow to be the largest.