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Local Support from State Universities

Steve Warnstadt: The state universities, the three state universities, Iowa, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa, have understood that they need to be providing services in northwest Iowa. So last year they established the Northwest Iowa Regents Resource Center, which is a collaboration between those three and the two community colleges in northwest Iowa. I serve as the liaison, basically, between the two community colleges and the three state universities, and one of the things that the regents have asked for is, you know, what is it that we can be delivering? What is it that would make an impact in Northwest Iowa that could help? That we could provide that is in shortfall? One of the areas that we’ve identified was economic development, especially some of the IT support for area businesses. So we worked with the University of Iowa, which has a program they started last May, going out helping small businesses with their information technology needs. And the University of Iowa has decided to put a full time person here in Sioux City at the WIT campus to provide that IT support.  So this is one of the projects that the NWIRRC has worked on in collaboration with the UI to deliver here in NW Iowa.

Duane Kraayenbrink: So the Regents Resource Center, this is not the first collaboration, first project they’re doing, and there’s some others going on right now?

Steve: We have a number of academic programs and some other outreach efforts that we’re undertaking. One of the things we were working with Iowa State University and delivering geographic information systems training here in in Sioux City. The University of Northern Iowa has an entrepreneurship program that they’re working on with Woodbury County, Plymouth County, and Monona County here in NW Iowa to help break down the barriers and help assist entrepreneurs set up a business in this part of the state. So these are some of the projects, in addition to some online programs, online degree programs, that people can get here in NW Iowa from the state universities. But this is the key piece because we actually have a full time person working on behalf of the UI, working with the community colleges, and delivering services here in NW Iowa.

Duane: So, the Universities win by having a presence here in the community, and the community here wins by being able to tap into the expertise that they can provide us.

Steve: And we increase the educational opportunities for students, whether they’re traditional community college students or people who want to do a transfer to a four-year universities. Absolutely.

Duane: And Craig can you kind of explain, in a little bit of a nutshell, what this UI partnership is going to be doing here at Western Iowa Tech?

Craig Engelke: Yeah, I can do that. First of all, I’d like to say that I’m really excited about this partnership with the University of Iowa and Western Iowa Tech Community College. And really there are two goals in mind here with this partnership. Number one is we want to help small businesses, businesses with 50 or fewer employees, with their IT needs. Many of those businesses don’t have an IT budget or internal IT support. And some of them may be just starting out, and they’ve got a lot to think about just in their business, not necessarily at their IT part of business. And so we’re looking to help those types of companies. Secondly, not lastly, we’re also looking to help the students with some real world experience. It’s a little bit different leaving the classroom, going out working with businesses, and this is going to be a great opportunity to them to have a paid internship, as well as get some real world experience that they can add to their resume, so that when they’re ready to get out, hopefully, they’ll be employed by some of our local IT companies.

Duane: So I guess that looking at the businesses first, they benefit because they’ll probably be gung-ho, because they know their business, they know their craft, they know what they’re doing, but they may not know what all it is going to take for record keeping and communication on their end.

Craig: Yeah, that’s correct. And you know the technology changes so fast, it’s pretty hard to keep up with it. There are all sorts of aspects to it, whether it be data management, data backup, updating operating systems, viruses, malware, spyware, all that stuff that gets our computers on daily basis when we go to the wrong sites. Those are things were going to be able to help them with.  Web development is another thing. Less than 50%, I believe, of the businesses here in the Siouxland area have a web presence. This is going to help. We can help build a website for them. A one or two page sight that can give them a presence, it can be more elaborate if they so choose. But it really gives them an opportunity to have that web presence and also be able to administer that site, because they need to keep updating their content, and we can help with that that type of training for the business owner, so they that they’re able to update the content on their on their own.

Duane: And if they wanted to contact you, they could start off, have you come out and give them a free assessment, and tell them, “this is what I need and can you tell me how do I get there?”

Craig: Yeah, we offer a free assessment. Whether it’s a website or a network, we’ll come up with two or three different solutions for the business owner.  And it may be just as simple as us just doing assessment and then pointing them in the right direction for those services. You know we can be more elaborate with some of our solutions. If we need to get programmers to help develop apps that integrate with their website, that’s also a possibility as well. So depending upon the project, this is assessment this is absolutely free.

Duane: And then give them different options that might be different levels of cost and all that, I suppose, too?

Craig: That’s correct.

Duane: And on the student’s end, that’s a real benefit for the student, too.  The may have spent a lot of time in the classroom end, and, in theory this is how it works, but then go on site to a business and they’ll have to deal with personalities and business owners and stuff like that, and it will be some good hands-on experience that they can take on in to the future.

Craig: Yeah, I think it’s crucial to building the resume. That’s what employers are looking for is his experience. And so I would say businesses are interested in our services, or an assessment, or students. You can contact us at the UI partners dot U Iowa dot EDU, and just simply go to the Sioux City location and click apply now. Or if you’re a business owner, you can now send an email to myself. I also have a link on there for my email. And we will look at, you know, helping those businesses with their IT needs or doing an assessment for them.

Duane: And this is kind of unusual because you’re actually going to be here, you’re around here on campus?

Craig: I’ll be at the Western Iowa Tech location.  I’m not a native Siouxlander, I’ve been here for 20 years in the Siouxland area. So I will be here on a regular basis.

Duane:  And if they forget the email address or something, they could probably come out to the Security Institute and track you down?

Craig: Yep.

Duane: And Steve, you’re kind coordinating this with the regents, and if people had any questions about this service, or the other regent services, they can contact you here?

Steve: Yes. They can give me a phone call at the Western Iowa Tech address, or they can go to the Northwest Iowa Regents Resource Center webpage, which is NWIRRC dot ORG. We also have a Facebook account where we’re promoting things like what the University of Iowa is doing with its University of Iowa Partners Program. I’m really excited about this opportunity to deliver state level services here in Northwest. It’s a great collaboration between the University of Iowa and Western Iowa Tech. It takes a lot of trust to turn the things over to the Western Iowa Tech students, but the University of Iowa has the confidence. We want to make sure that we extend that opportunity to area businesses and seize an opportunity to pool state resources. That’s really what the NW Regents Resource Ctr. is about, is bringing others talents and tools of the state universities here to NW Iowa, and if people want to transfer, we can help them with transferring from Western Iowa Tech to one of the state universities and then find ways to do it online so they don’t necessarily have to move in order to get these services. But it’s great to have people to contact here, and we have it both with the Craig and at the academic side with the Regents Resource Ctr.

Duane: And you’re office is also at the Security Institute.

Steve: I’m actually at the at the administration building. I’m right off the main entrance of Western Iowa Tech’s campus.

Duane: Easy to find.

Steve: Absolutely. And if people want to talk transfer, Susan Grau is right in the admissions office itself.

Duane: Alright, Steve, Craig, thanks for your time this morning.

Steve: Thank you.

Craig: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks.