LaBounty leaves legacy at UMDRoy LaBounty’s legacy has many aspects, but perhaps none more lasting as his gift to the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), which will help the school train future generations of entrepreneurs.
By: Duluth News Tribune , Lake County News Chronicle
Roy LaBounty’s legacy has many aspects, but perhaps none more lasting as his gift to the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), which will help the school train future generations of entrepreneurs.
The Roy LaBounty Center for Entrepreneurship will be an integral part of the school’s growing emphasis on teaching its business students how to be entrepreneurs and start successful businesses.
The $500,000 gift from the Two Harbors entrepreneur will help strengthen the business school’s role in small-business and entrepreneurship development.
Among the school’s existing endeavors in that regard are:
• The Center for Economic Development and its Small Business Development Center.
• The Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
• Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards.
• The Center for Economic Education.
“When the [LaBounty] gift was given, we weren’t in a position to do something with it,” said Kjell Knudsen, dean of the UMD business school.
In late October of this year, the pieces fell into place, and the LaBounty Center was established.
Knudsen said he expects the center will stimulate research on entrepreneurship, pay for an internship program and perhaps host a business plan competition for students that eventually could include the community.
When the gift was made four years ago, Roy LaBounty designated that it be used to help educate future entrepreneurs and engineers, his son Curt LaBounty said.
“The [Labovitz] school over the last few months was trying to formalize that,” he said.
The elder LaBounty lived to see the center announced, but died just three weeks later.
The endowment will provide UMD an extra $16,000 to $20,000 a year from its earnings. None of the earnings will be used for administering LaBounty Center programs, Knudsen said.
“This particular endowment helps us harness intellectual capital,” he said. “It really allows us to add value to what we have.” School officials hope the endowment will grow in years to come, he added.
Pat Borchert, who is in her third year of teaching entrepreneurial studies at the business school, said that although she teaches 70 students each year in her introductory class, there’s always a waiting list. Entrepreneurs generally have certain personality characteristics, but “there are lots of skills that can be learned,” she said.
About a third of her current students say they are considering starting a business right after they graduate, Borchert said.
Right now, entrepreneurship studies don’t include a major or minor. But Labovitz School officials are “considering the possibility of having an entrepreneur major here,” Borchert said.
In the Swenson College, the LaBounty money has been used to expose engineering students to business, including courses about how to start a company and entrepreneurship related to engineering, said Jim Riehl, dean of the engineering college.
Those courses have been on hiatus during the recent surge in engineering enrollment and search for new faculty, Riehl said. “However, we are currently searching for new faculty in this area, and are planning to continue to provide this important opportunity to students on a regular basis beginning in the upcoming academic year,” he said.
Both the engineering college and business school hope to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs who will help the region’s economy grow and prosper. It might include the next Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft, but more likely it will be motivated, hardworking men and women who operate regional businesses such as LaBounty Manufacturing.
The Two Harbors company became a leader in its industry and eventually sold its products worldwide before Roy LaBounty sold it to Stanley Hydraulics, a global corporation.