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Press Photo by John Odermann Gregg Vanourek, a personal leadership development specialist, speaks during the Strom Conference hosted by the Strom Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on Thursday in the Dickinson State University Student Center ballroom.

Students learn from business leaders at Conference

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Area business leaders and Dickinson State University students came together Thursday at the DSU Student Center for the annual Strom Conference.

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The event, sponsored by the Strom Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation focused on providing entrepreneurial and business tools for those in attendance, and applying them to everyday life.

"You don't have to own a business to be entrepreneurial. We're all entrepreneurs," Executive Director of the Strom Center, Steve Glasser said.

The event featured three speakers, including:

r Barry Maher, a management and sales consultant spoke about utilizing a positive outlook to achieve your goals.

r Joel Belth, a Dickinson native and founder of SolarBee, Inc.

r Gregg Vanourek, a leadership development specialist and author of Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives.

Vanourek told those in attendance that now, during an economic downturn, is quite possibly the best time for an entrepreneur.

"It turns out that actually downturns and recessions, even a Great Depression can be times of tremendous opportunity with the right mindset," Vanourek said. "The entrepreneur looks for opportunity."

Glasser said all of the speakers did a tremendous job and it was nice to see someone like Bleth tells his story.

"I think what really hit home was here's a guy that grew up in Dickinson, North Dakota and started a business with a friend," Glasser said.

SolarBee now does business in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries.

Last year the event was made up of four half-day sessions. Glasser said with everyone as busy as they are and the current status of the economy they felt a one day event would better serve those in attendance.

Glasser hopes the conference will continue to grow next year.

"Bringing it back to this format I think we built some good momentum today," Glasser said. "We really want to get more involvement next year."

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