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Building a home for entrepreneurs

By   LRSC Staff
08/07/2014

At LRSC, creative thinkers are valued and encouraged. Students, faculty, and community stakeholders often work together in search of innovations which lead to new products or services.

LRSC and its foundation have partnered with the North Central Economic Development District and regional economic development agencies from northeast North Dakota to create an entrepreneurship center certified by the ND Department of Commerce. Certified status opens doors to special funding opportunities. The center—known as LR ETC, the Lake Region Entrepreneurs in Technology Center—is based in LRSC’s Dakota Precision Ag Center just north of the main campus. Its mission is to serve entrepreneurs from regional economic development agencies. The model allows virtual support for those located in communities throughout the region.

Dr. Doug Darling, LRSC president, explained, “The college has a long history of assisting in community and business development initiatives which often involve entrepreneurship. We want to continue to serve this need and expand options.”

For many years LRSC has offered entrepreneurship courses within its Accounting/Business Administration program. The focus expanded with designation as a Center of Excellence in 2005 and funding to launch the Dakota Precision Ag Center (DPAC), a three-way partnership between the college and private- and public-sector partners. Quickly identified as a leader, DPAC became deeply involved with established companies designing and developing new equipment, firmware, and software and assisting emerging businesses in the expanding field of precision ag. Since 2011, LRSC entrepreneur activity has brought in nearly $4 million of outside funding from the agriculture industry with vested interest in new products. By early 2012, over $750,000 in training programming and research had also been awarded as in-kind investments.

Synergies evolving from this process include internships, faculty consults with private-sector entities, customized training for private-sector workforces, and pending local financial investments. Strategies include business incubator and acceleration methodologies.

 LR ETC is unique in that it began as a grassroots effort in regional economic development. It is a partner and educator for new, innovative businesses. In short, LRSC is an entrepreneur, serves entrepreneurs, and, with regional economic development leaders, is building a base to support and expand entrepreneurial activity in northeastern North Dakota.

LR ETC is an exciting new resource, ready to serve. To learn more, contact Melana.Howe@LRSC.edu.