College business students win national competition
By: Tom Urbanski, Pine Journal
A team of students representing the American Indian Business Leaders student organization at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) won first-place honors in the 2012 Business Plan Competition at the national American Indian Business Leaders Annual Conference and Competition held April 13-15, in Denver, Colo.
The American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) students representing FDLTCC in the competition were Lamont Hines, president, of Minneapolis; Jamie Talbot, historian, of Proctor; Heidi Jurek, secretary, of Wrenshall; and Romont Thompson, treasurer, of Buffalo, N.Y. Additional AIBL club members who support the group and operate the coffee shop are Jackson Ripley and Patsy Maciewski, both of Cloquet.
“It’s not just about going to compete,” said Hines. “We spent hours researching, analyzing, discussing and making decisions about our business plan. The hours of work and preparation leading up to the competition is when we learned, in a practical way, how to write a realistic business plan. Presenting our plan and winning the competition validates that we learned in our classes and were able to apply our knowledge in a real-world situation.”
The national American Indian Business Leaders Annual Conference and Competition is a college-level business competition between tribal colleges, community colleges and four-year universities. Students are rated in different categories such as speaking presentation, leadership skills, cultural activities, success in raising funds, visual illustrations, products and services, involvement in campus activities and community service, and developing sustainable projects.
The team’s business plan and presentation focused on the business strategies of Kaffiend’s Korner, the student-operated coffee shop on the FDLTCC campus. The college students have been successfully operating the coffee shop since December 2005. Students work in the coffee shop throughout the school year, and the profits help cover expenses related to sending the team to the national competition each year.
The AIBL club’s advisor is Dylan Olson, FDLTCC business program advisor, who is a 2004 graduate of FDLTCC and was a member of the AIBL club when he attended FDLTCC. Bryan Jon Maciewski, Business instructor at FDLTCC, also assists and supports the club members and activities.
“It’s great to see our students win the competition, but it is more important to see them work together to create the business plan and develop the presentation,” said Olson. “This is a perfect example of hands-on learning, and it has a real purpose because we will use the business plan to guide the operation of the coffee shop on campus.”
Business students from FDLTCC have established a reputation for success in the annual national competition. The FDLTCC Chapter was named Chapter of the Year in 2004, 2008 and 2009. Prior to this year’s win, FDLTCC students won the Business Plan Development Competition in 2006, finished second in 2011, and finished third in 2002, 2003 and 2007. FDLTCC student Andy Angell was named 2006 American Indian Business Leaders Student of the Year.