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The underlying quality of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to create and develop sustainable business ideas and adapt to changing conditions. A new major in entrepreneurship in the Business Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston will offer students the opportunity to develop skills needed to recognize ideas and potential ventures, evaluate feasibility, assemble resources, and launch new ventures. The entrepreneurship major is available to students on campus as well as online. 

The best entrepreneurs are those who possess a solid functional knowledge of the business world, the skills and vision to inspire and motivate others, and the ability to navigate change and persist in the belief of their ideas. Students will gain knowledge in business development, finance, and innovation along with developing their leadership and decision-making skills. Graduates will add immediate value to any organizational setting.

Under the leadership of Susan Brorson, professor and head, the Business Department is committed to excellence. "Offering an entrepreneurship major will help meet changing demands of employers, heightened competition, and enhance the economic and job growth realized from entrepreneurial activity," Brorson says. "Entrepreneurial behavior is increasingly recognized as a critical necessity for growth of the U.S. and international economy. It is an exciting major with a wide range of possibilities.

"The University of Minnesota Crookston has a tradition of providing experiential learning, and the Business Department as a unit has long embraced an applied approach to course delivery, infusing significant "learning by doing" elements in its curriculum," Brorson says. 
 
A student majoring in entrepreneurship can enhance the work of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies (CRES) and Economic Development Administration (EDA) Center, both located on campus, by assisting entrepreneurs and economic development entities in their efforts to build businesses, communities, and regions. Through course-based team projects and coordination of internships, students gain experience and assist CRES and EDA in helping actual clients make better decisions about future actions.

The Business Department also offers majors and minors in accounting, finance, management, manufacturing management, marketing, quality management, and sport and recreation management. To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu/academics/business/index.html.
 
Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 29 bachelor's degree programs, 20 minors, and 36 concentrations on campus--as well as 13 degrees online--in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

Contact: Sue Brorson, head, Business Department, 218-281-8186 (sbrorson@umn.edu); Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director, communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

Billed as the "Academy Awards for high tech," rural Minnesota communities and partners 
MIRC Tekne Award 2012 pic.jpg
received a Tekne Award in Minneapolis on November 1, 2012, from the Minnesota High Tech Association for their work on broadband access and adoption. Representatives of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative collected the "Innovative Collaboration Award" in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant, the MIRC coalition, which included as one of its partners the Economic Development Administration University Center (EDA Center)  located at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, brought together a network of resources and support to rural Minnesota individuals and communities--especially those unemployed and seeking employment, small businesses, coalitions of government entities, and local leaders. 
 
Jack Geller, director of the EDA Center served as the project's primary evaluator and was pleased to be a part of the award winning project. He also acknowledges the vital role played by the University of Minnesota Extension in the MIRC and their work in rural Minnesota.  

Selection of Tekne finalists and winners was made by an independent panel of judges. In choosing MIRC, an initiative convened by Blandin Foundation and involving 30 partners, judges noted that, "MIRC has benefited from a legacy of collaboration. MIRC partners are numerous and the impact the collaboration has had on broadband adoption is significant. In fact, the [broadband] adoption rate is 29.8 percent faster in MIRC partner communities when compared to the rest of rural Minnesota."

All rural regions of Minnesota have engaged in broadband projects as part of the MIRC Initiative. Individual communities initiated more than 70 locally designed and led demonstration projects, suchas Lac Qui Parle County's "Commuter Computer" (mobile learning lab) or Winona's "Project FINE" (language-specific computer literacy training in Hmong and Spanish).

Statewide MIRC partners provided training to more than 8,000 individuals, computers to more than 1,600 households and has resulted in more than 40,000 households in rural Minnesota subscribing to high-speed Internet. The two-year initiative was funded through a $4.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant administered by Blandin Foundation and will be completed at the close of 2012.

"Resilient, vibrant communities are connected communities," said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin
Foundation CEO. "And the quality and diversity of those connections is a hallmark of a community's leadership and sustainability. Through MIRC, engaged local leaders and statewide partners worked together to bring the promises of broadband to many of Minnesota's rural communities, including all residents in their progress. Blandin Foundation is thrilled that coalition's ambitious and innovative work has been honored through the Tekne Award."

Presented by the MHTA, the Tekne Awards honor those who play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate, improve lifestyles, and impact the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and all over the world. The program reinforces Minnesota's place as one of the most competitive and technologically advanced regions in the world. A full list of winners and finalists is available online at http://www.tekneawards.org/finalists

About the EDA Center at the U of M, Crookston
The mission of the EDA Center, located at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, is to engage university faculty, staff and students with local, county and regional economic development agencies in support of the rural economy. For more information, contact Jack Geller at 218-281-8248 or visit the EDA Center's Web site at www.edacenter.org.

About Blandin Foundation
Blandin Foundation stands with rural Minnesota communities as they imagine and claim ambitious, vibrant futures. It is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives are at www.blandinfoundation.org and broadband news at www.blandinonbroadband.org. On Twitter at http://twitter.com/BlandinFound. Media contact: Allison Ahcan, 218-326-0523.

About Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)
MHTA, or the Minnesota High Tech Association, is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota's prosperity. MHTA helps bring together the people of Minnesota's technology ecosystem and leads the charge in directing technology issues to Minnesota's state capitol. MHTA is the only membership organization that represents Minnesota's entire technology-based economy. Its members include organizations of every size − involved in virtually every aspect of technology creation, roduction, application and education in Minnesota. Find out more online at http://www.mhta.org or follow MHTA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MHTA.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor's degree programs, 18 minors, and 39 concentrations on campus--as well as 10 degrees online--in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

In the photo: MIRC was awarded the Tekne "Innovative Collaboration Award." Jack Geller, director of the EDA University Center is on the far left. 

Contact: Jack Geller, director, The EDA Center, 218-281-8248 or 507-381-0720; Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director, communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

The Minnesota EDA Center, based at the U of M, Crookston, recently published its latest report, Second_Stage_Business_Report_9-2012_Page_01.jpg"Successful Businesses in Rural Minnesota: Lessons Learned" by faculty members Eyad Youssef, Ph.D., Jack Geller, Ph.D., Ken Myers, and Denis Maier, Ph.D. 

The report details common traits and characteristics related to new business success across rural Minnesota in order to identify successful "second-stage" businesses and to understand the factors leading to their success. The report is available online

Contact: Jack Geller, professor and head, Liberal Arts and Education Dept. and director, EDA Center

For the past three years, the University of Minnesota, Crookston has served as the umcedacenter_verticallogo.jpgEconomic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for the state of Minnesota. That designation will continue with the recent awarding of a grant appropriation of $615,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Under the guidance of Jack Geller, Ph.D., who serves as director, the EDA Center will work with economic development agencies to focus on two complementary areas: Fostering a climate of entrepreneurship in economically distressed rural communities and increasing digital literacy and technology adoption. Geographic regions in Minnesota each have their own unique regional economy as well as economic challenges and opportunities. The Center will leverage the intellectual resources of the U of M to help distressed rural communities facing these economic and demographic challenges and broaden the tools available to regional economic agencies.

"Economic development has traditionally focused on business recruitment and retention, but more and more we are realizing that the path towards rural economic prosperity also includes creating a climate for entrepreneurship and small business creation.  More than ever in rural Minnesota we realize that small business is big business," notes Geller.

The grant also facilitates greater collaboration with University of Minnesota Extension. Geller worked with Dick Senese, associate dean for public engagement and the Extension Center for Community Vitality, to identify Extension programs and applied research that can be tapped to inform decisions in regional economies. Extension has expertise in applied research for communities, especially as it relates to supporting community-driven approaches to economic development.

"When it comes to facing the new economy, local leadership matters - a lot," says Senese.  "Extension's Center for Community Vitality is eager to help the EDA Center make University research practical and useful for those local leaders who are ready to grow their economy through business retention and development."

Utilizing the intellectual resources of the University and Extension will allow the Center to continue to provide technical assistance and applied research as well as foster a culture of entrepreneurship and business development across the state.

The Crookston campus will leverage funds to provide strategic investments through cash support and in-kind investments to help increase both opportunities for undergraduate research and internships with an economic development agency. The Center provides the opportunity to utilize the capacity of the U of M, Crookston in partnership with economic development agencies to support job creation, capital investment, business recruitment, and job retention.

"Since 2008 under the direction of Professor Jack Geller, the University of Minnesota, Crookston has served as the EDA University Center with a focus on serving the rural, economically-distressed communities across Minnesota.  This new award will greatly enhance our ability to expand the geographic reach of the University Center, help foster a stronger entrepreneurial culture in these communities, and enhance the digital literacy skills of small rural businesses in economically-distressed areas of the state," explains Charles H. Casey, D.V.M., chancellor at the U of M, Crookston. 

"This is strongly tied to our mission as a land-grant university; to leverage the skills and talents of our faculty and students to provide technical assistance and conduct applied research to solve real-world problems in rural Minnesota," Casey added.

To learn more about the EDA Center, visit www.edacenter.org . For more information about Extension, visit www.extension.umn.edu/community.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 29 bachelor's degree programs, 18 minors, and more than 40 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of about 1,450 undergraduates from more than 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

Contact: Jack Geller, professor and head, Liberal Arts and Education Dept. and director, EDA Center; Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director, communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

umcedacenter_verticallogo_resized.jpgThe University of Minnesota, Crookston, home to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center, is a partner on a $4.7 million federal grant awarded to the Blandin Foundation and 19 coalition partners to enhance broadband access in Minnesota's rural areas. Through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant, the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities coalition will bring a network of resources and support to rural Minnesota individuals and communities--especially those unemployed and seeking employment, small businesses, coalitions of government entities, and local leaders. The Blandin Foundation will administer the grant on behalf of the initiative's partners.

The EDA Center, under the leadership of Center Director Jack Geller, will serve a vital role as project evaluator for the grant. Designed to bring together partners from across a wide spectrum, the grant will provide funding to carry out an array of projects. As evaluator, the EDA Center will design and conduct research on the projects, collect data, and measure the impact and effectiveness of the grant's activities. Some $459,900 is set aside for the evaluation aspect of the grant. Faculty and staff from across the University will have an opportunity to be engaged in research on projects related to the grant's objectives.

Geller is keenly aware of the significant impact improving technology access would have for those who live and work in rural Minnesota. "This grant is a very significant and comprehensive approach to targeting rural communities and those who lack access to technologies that could prove to be critically important to them," Geller states. "We will broaden awareness, provide essential technical assistance, and help those who may not even be online yet. We want to maximize this opportunity to assist rural businesses and help them adopt new technologies, increase their market share, reach new customers, and improve their bottom line."

Total cost of the coalition's proposed projects is estimated at more than $6 million. Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities coalition members will contribute $1.3 million in resources as matching funds toward the effort. The Blandin Foundation submitted the application for federal broadband stimulus funding on behalf of University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, University of Minnesota Crookston, Association of Minnesota Counties and their national counterpart, Network of Care Mental Health, Intelligent Community Forum, Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace, Minnesota Department of Economic Development Workforce Centers, PCs for People and Minnesota's nine Regional Development Commissions.

The mission of the EDA Center, located on the Crookston Campus, is to engage university faculty, staff and students with local, county and regional economic development agencies in support of the rural economy. For more information, contact Geller at 218-281-8248 or visit the EDA Center's Web site at www.edacenter.org.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 bachelor's degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture and natural resources; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of about 1,300 undergraduates, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit www.umcrookston.edu.

Contact: Jack Geller, director, EDA Center, 218-281-8248 (gelle045@umn.edu); Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director, communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)

umcedacenter_verticallogo.jpgCrookston, Minn. - A new study released by The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota,Crookston finds that 89.7 percent of rural businesses maintain an Internet connection; up from the 66 percent reported in 2004.  And unlike in 2004 when 38.6 percent of rural businesses were still connecting with a dial-up Internet connection, today 96 percent of rural businesses utilize a broadband connection.  The report documents the findings of a study just completed in June 2009 which surveyed 689 businesses across a variety of commercial and industrial sectors throughout rural Minnesota. The study was conducted in collaboration with 8 different Regional Development Commissions, as well as the West Central Initiative Foundation and has a statistical margin of error of + 3.7 percent.

Researchers found that rural businesses are quite active users of the Internet and continue to integrate it into their business operations and strategy.  More than half of all businesses in the study report utilizing their broadband connection for everything from selling goods and services online (56.3%) to interacting with government agencies (69.8%).  Further, business owners report that securing adequate bandwidth is having a significant impact on everything from their overall cost of doing business (49.9%) to increased business sales (49.3%).

Interestingly, 71 percent of businesses in the study reported that the price they pay for their Internet connection was either "very affordable" or "priced about right"; and a wide majority of businesses (85%) reported that the speed of their current Internet connection was adequate to meet their current business needs.  However, only 37 percent of the businesses had confidence that their current Internet connection speed would adequately meet their business needs 24 months from now. Further, 54 percent of the businesses reported that they planned to further increase their use of the Internet in their business within the next 12 months.

Dr. Jack Geller, professor and director of the EDA Center observed, "It is clear from these findings that the Internet; and specifically broadband technology is now an essential component of all businesses regardless of the size or location of the business.  Accordingly, communities, economic developers and broadband providers must collaborate to ensure that businesses will be able to access the bandwidth they need."

A copy of the full report can be downloaded from The EDA Center's website at www.umcedacenter.org.

The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, is one of over 40 university centers nationwide, supported by the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  The EDA Center conducts applied research, provides direct technical assistance and delivers educational programs to economic development agencies located in economically-distressed communities throughout Minnesota.


Contact: Jack Geller, director, The EDA Center, 218-281-8248 or 507-381-0720

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