For 11 years, Northwestern Oklahoma State University has played host to an annual entrepreneurship seminar, bringing together students and community under the university’s educational mission.

“The Entrepreneur: Resiliency in Leadership,” Feb. 23-24, at NWOSU-Enid, attracted students, community and 11 entrepreneurs.

The seminar, a collaboration between Northwestern, Northern Oklahoma College and Autry Technology Center, also acts as a course for upper level — junior and senior — students.

“The partnership has kind of evolved over the last 10 years,” said Wayne McMillin, NWOSU-Enid dean. “One of the unique things about it is we try to bring in a national level speaker, or even an international speaker.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Romeatrius Moss, CEO and president of RNM Consulting, a public relations and strategic communications consulting firm with a focus on health promotion.

Moss is an award-winning health professional and active duty Air Force nurse, and she has created hundreds of health focused programs and projects throughout the last 20 years, according to her website. From Tennessee, Moss started working with nonprofit agencies when she was 15 years old.

Other speakers were Paul Allen, AdvancePierre Foods founder;  Dr. Tony Woodlief, State Policy Network; Myrl Mortenson, Hanor Co.; Mike Brown, Jack’s Outdoor Power Equipment; Brent Kisling, Enid Regional Development Alliance; Lori Blanton, McDonald’s; Stephanie Eaton, State Farm Insurance; Rebecca Kroeker, Associated Therapeutic Services, PC; Gary Mills, R&D Maintenance Services Inc.; and Stacey Brandhorst, i2E.

“The majority of people are local, and people really respond to supporting the local speakers,” McMillin said. “It’s been a good marriage of community support and the university’s mission here in the classroom.”

McMillin said this year, about 280 students enrolled in the seminar and there were dozens of community members attending.

The seminar also includes a dinner. For the past two years, an entrepreneur has been honored. This year’s honoree was Allen.

“Historically, one of our biggest events was Gen. Tommy Franks,” McMillin said. Congressman Frank Lucas and Stan Clark from Eskimo Joes also have been featured speakers at  the event.

“We’ve had some big names, and some more local people,” the dean said.

It takes a half year of planning to get speakers set and invited and the rest of the events in place.

“We start working on this probably in the fall. We start identifying speakers. We’ve got a running list,” he said. “We’ll start in the fall looking at our list and start doing some marketing at the beginning of the year. It takes us a while to get it set up. It’s about a 6-month process.”

McMillin said NWOSU partnered with NOC, Autry and ERDA to form Enid Entrepreneur Leadership Series, which includes Autry’s business competitions.

“The purpose of that was to streamline our efforts so the community could support the overall big picture for events,” he said. “All the entities are working together with the community to support what I think is a great resource.”

The dean said one of the goals was to inspire other entrepreneurs.

“That’s kind of one of our goals. You hope with a classroom full of students you’ll find that next (area oil mogul) Harold Hamm. One of our founding community partners was (local oilman) Lew Ward. Many days we would talk about this program, and he would guide me,” McMillin said. “We’re trying to find the next Lew Ward, maybe inspire someone to start a business.

“Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, we get people inspired to be active,” he said. “What I’ve learned is Enid has a real entrepreneurial spirit.”

Story provided by:  Enid News and Eagle

Written by:  Cass Rains