Feature Article from The Whitewater Press - Summer/ Fall 2010 www.thewhitewaterpress.com
By Dick Tefler ~ Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
~ Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit ~
The University of Wisconsin - Whitewater is developing a strong reputation as a university where entrepreneurs flourish.
Students like Henry Schwartz arrived on campus having already run a successful skateboard business in Menomonie WI. He continues to be involved with business ideas and is involved in organizations on campus. You might catch a glimpse of Henry on campus as he passes on his skateboard.
This year, our students involved in business competitions did an outstanding job. Jordan Leahy won $3,000 for his business, Clestkiwi, at Northwestern University’s third annual elevator pitch competition. Leahy beat 30 teams from universities such as the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, DePaul University and UW-Madison. Clestkiwi is a monitoring service for parents of teen drivers. Leahy launched his first business, a window-cleaning company, at age 15. Six years later, in October 2008, he successfully completed its sale.
Tyler Sailsbery took second place in the Mason Wells BizStarts Milwaukee collegiate Business Plan Competition. His business proposal for NoMoreDorms.com, a website serving students and property owners, won the top prize of $5,000 in this year’s fourth annual Warhawk Business Plan Competition on campus.
These are just a couple of examples of the kind of work our students are doing. They receive support and guidance from faculty and staff. It’s part of the reason why I’m so excited about the Whitewater University Technology Park and the opening of the Whitewater Innovation Center in 2011.
The Whitewater Innovation Center will serve as an incubator for businesses like those that Schwartz, Leahy and Sailsbery develop. It will also be a place where our faculty and staff can conduct research and develop their own projects.
This joint project serves as a testament to the cooperative spirit that exists between the City of Whitewater, the Whitewater Community Development Authority and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In less than a year’s time, the Technology Park went from an idea to a reality. With assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, state and federal legislators and hundreds of hours of hard work by city and university staff, the park received a $4.7 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to help fund the Innovation Center, the park’s first building, and for park improvements.
Earlier this year, CESA 2 officially became the first tenant, signing a 10 year lease.
CESA 2 will occupy approximately 10,000 square feet of office and conference space. I believe that CESA 2’s mission of providing education and training support services for the area districts is a natural fit with the work already being done on our campus. We look forward to a strong working relationship with CESA 2 and the many districts it serves. I look forward to the collaborative work that will come out of this venture.
It’s an exciting time for entrepreneurs of all types on the UW-Whitewater campus and in the City of Whitewater. We’re proud that UW-Whitewater is a place that encourages and embraces the entrepreneurial spirit.