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Nicolet College - Nicolet, Potawatomi partner for entrepreneurial workshops

Nicolet, Forest County Potawatomi
partner for entrepreneurial workshops


In recent months Nicolet College has forged an innovative education alliance with the Forest County Potawatomi Community (FCPC), and both parties are bringing something of value to the table.

Through a special arrangement, Nicolet is delivering on-site workshops for developing entrepreneurial skills and participating in a one-on-one mentoring program for budding entrepreneurs. Nicolet is also offering professional development classes for business employees.

For its part, FCPC applied for a USDA grant for developing entrepreneurial skills and Nicolet will receive $15,000 of the grant funds to cover teaching and marketing costs. The tribe also is providing classroom space for the workshops.

The partnering grew out of an initiative taken by Nicolet’s new president, Elizabeth Burmaster. “One of the first things Elizabeth did was meet with each of the three tribal governments in the Nicolet College district,” explained Ron Skallerud, Nicolet’s executive director of workforce/economic development, campus safety and security. “The Potawatomi seized this as an opportunity for realizing a dream of their own.”

The courses cover a wide gamut. Remaining professional development courses include Business Writing/Resumes & Cover Letters July 29; Interviewing for Success Aug. 5; Business Etiquette Aug. 12; and Working in a Diverse Environment Aug. 19. These workshops will meet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., on Thursdays in the auditorium of the Forest County Potawatomi Executive Building, 5416 Everybody’s Rd., Crandon.

Remaining entrepreneurial classes include Financial Planning: Start-Up Costs, Sales, Inventory and Operating Expenses July 26; Financial Planning: Cash Outlays, Sources and Financial Statements Aug. 2; Finalizing the Business Plan Aug. 9; and Business in Indian Country Aug. 16. These workshops will meet from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, also in the auditorium of the Forest County Potawatomi Executive Building, 5416 Everybody’s Rd., Crandon.

All workshops are free to the residents of Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas counties.

“We are fortunate to be partnering with Nicolet College,” said Cara Kulhanek, grants development specialist for FCPC. “With the changes occurring in the global economy and its impact on rural America, technical colleges have become essential. They teach the trades, they teach them fast, and they can adapt quickly to new demands.”

The problem for FCPC and other northern Wisconsin residents, Kulhanek said, has been travel and expense. “Before this partnership, anyone wanting to take entrepreneurial classes would have had to travel to Rhinelander, 28 miles away, and have to pay to take the classes. Nicolet reached out and helped us figure how we could bring the courses here – not just via TV or Internet – but on campus, with Nicolet teachers. Through our USDA grant we’ve been able to open up these workshops to everyone in a multi-county area for free.”

Michelle Madl, the Nicolet College business instructor who is conducting the workshops, said planning was intense and productive. “It’s about relationship building and trust building,” Madl said, “and we have made great strides in those areas. What the tribe has been looking for, and what the college hopes to do, is finally coming to fruition.”

“Going out and getting the tribal perspective on what matters to them has been invaluable for Nicolet,” Burmaster said. “That’s what Nicolet is here for – to listen and respond to the needs of everyone in our district.”

To register for any of the workshops, or for more information, contact Madl at (715) 365-4492, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4492; TDD (715) 365-4558 or 711 (relay); or by email at


- posted Wednesday, July 21, 2010