Entrepreneurship: Improving the Job Market
By Ben Basler, Matt Campbell, Brian Huegel, John Leupke, and Chris Zimmerman
In his recently proposed economic plan, Governor Scott Walker stated, “my goal is to create 250,000 new jobs and 10,000 new businesses in the private sector by the year 2015.” For this to occur, entrepreneurs must play an important role in the growth process. One way Walker is encouraging entrepreneurial development is through initiatives at the university level, such as BizStarts College Consortium.
The BizStarts College Consortium was created to offer additional entrepreneurial courses, programs, and experiences. The Consortium allows students to work with local businesses, attend regional conferences, and learn from experienced entrepreneurs. The program is currently limited to the Milwaukee area and its surrounding counties. Several schools in the University of Wisconsin system such as UW-Whitewater, UW-Parkside, and UW-Milwaukee are participating in the initiative. From these additional efforts, the state hopes that more graduates will pursue entrepreneurial options in the local area. The main goal is to get students, faculty, and staff excited about entrepreneurial thinking and its potential benefits for the area.
Lecturer Ray Hughes is the Director in Chair of the Dennis Heyde Entrepreneurship Program at the UW-Eau Claire. He views the BizStart College Consortium as having positive elements saying that, “making attempts to provide university assistance with resources available to support business is a good thing.” Strong public-private relationships between businesses and students help encourage increased commitment to entrepreneurship. While the program has its positives, the area it encompasses is relatively limited. One of Hughes’ concerns is that, “lawmakers need to have an understanding that the northern part of the state is a fertile economic territory and needs similar resources to the southern portion.”
Currently UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, and CVTC offer their own limited version of the College Consortium which allows students to work with businesses in the community; however, additional funding could greatly enhance and expand the program.
Hughes believes Dunn, Eau Claire, and Chippewa counties provide an excellent location for university and private business alliances.
In addition to the regions own version of the Consortium, UW-Eau Claire entrepreneurship majors have other options. West-central Wisconsin has support through the Regional Business Fund and Momentum West. The Regional Business Fund is a non-profit organization which works to promote business and economic development in our region. Entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a company are able to apply for start-up loans ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Momentum West provides assistance through marketing efforts promoting economic development in the area. These programs might offer an excellent opportunity for an Eau Claire graduate to start a promising local business.
From left to right: Ben Basler is a senior management major from Appleton, WI; Matt Campbell is a senior business administration/photography from Chippewa Falls, WI; Brian Huegel is a junior marketing major from Winona, MN; Chris Zimmerman, Senior, Management Major from Reedsburg, WI; and John Leupke (not pictured), Senior, Management Major from Plymouth, MN. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.