Thursday, September 04, 2008

Entrepreneurial ND!

Each time that I return to ND, I become more impressed with some of their entrepreneurial efforts. I found another one on this trip when I met Barry Stiegel, Director of the University of ND’s Youth Entrepreneurship Education Project. Barry is also a candidate for a doctoral degree in education from UND.

This past summer he conducted four youth entrepreneurship summer camps in Grand Forks, Belcourt, New Town and Dickinson, reaching over 100 youngsters in K-8 with an idea of BYOB. Now in my day BOYB had a different meaning than today’s “Be Your Own Boss!”

Two of the camp’s sponsors are The Dakota Foundation and the Strom Center for Entrepreneurship, both started by two fantastic native North Dakotans who have given back BIG-time to their home state. I wrote about Bart Holaday, founder of the Dakota Foundation, in BoomtownUSA. He gained fame and fortune in Chicago as the head of the largest fund-of-funds venture capital firms. Jerome Strom went west and made a fortune in Palo Alto real estate. Now they are both giving back!

Another renewed contact at the Governor’s Conference was with Esther and Shawn Oehlke of SEO Precision. When I first met them in rural Crosby, ND they had recently moved from Albuquerque, NM with their two sons. At the time they had laser technology which could lock onto a nickel from 20 miles away.

When I asked them about that technology, Shawn responded, “We now can keep it locked onto that same nickel from 100 miles. We also can do a laser scan of an eyeball from 100 meters away to determine friend or foe on the battlefield.”

SEO recently inked a deal with Northrup Grumman to supply them with fast-steering mirrors for use in Northrup’s laser systems. And, as their literature touts from a “woman held, high technology North Dakota Corporation substantially owned by North Dakota farmers.”

Entrepreneurism is alive and well in ND!

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