Kristin Abell (LTC) and Tryg Jacobson(Jake's Cafe) accept the "Working Together Award" from the Sheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce February 22, 2013 at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Gala. (Dennis Murphy Photo)
The Jake’s Café Creative Community is on a mission to promote, preserve and develop the quality of life in Sheboygan County. Creating an environment where creative people from all disciplines can come together and collaborate to solve problems in a great way has been our strategy to accomplishing this goal. During the collaborative production of “The Promise of Sheboygan County” with the SCEDC, interviews with area businesses helped us recognize the importance of developing strong alliances with area educational institutions including IDEAS, Lakeland College and LTC. So we pursued alliances with them.
Our most successful alliance has been with LTC, due in part to Mike Lancer’s commitment to collaborating with several members of the Jake’s Café Creative Community. Since early 2010, Jake’s has worked with LTC to help its students more meaningfully assimilate into Sheboygan and Manitowoc County’s workforce using a variety of strategies ranging from speaking events, internship programs, networking events, new product design/development sessions, strategic planning and marketing consultation to name a few. Our most successful outcomes with LTC have been in Sheboygan, but our cooperative model with local educators has attracted the attention of upstart creative communities statewide.
The Jake’s Café Collaborative Initiatives include:
Café Internship Program. Jake’s Café provides space to LTC for student
interns. Student interns have the opportunity to apply their skills and gain
new experience while building their individual resumes by working for any/all
of our members (over 30 currently on our campus). We have had 100% placement
rate with area companies and continue to maintain contact with past interns.
Classification Talks. LTC staff members, Foua Hang and Kristin Bell
have sponsored and organized informational meetings for Jake’s members to learn
more about LTC’s internship programs.
Development. As a
member of LTC Development committee, I have been working with Mike Lancer,
Katie Willinger (Director of LTC Advancement) on a program to solicit funds
from community businesses and philanthropists for the expansion of their
welding facility to accommodate the growing need for welders in Sheboygan and
4. Speaking Engagements. Tryg Jacobson, president of Jake’s Café has been a keynote speaker for several LTC events including: Business Commencement Speaker for 2012 LTC Graduates (Linda Fitch), LTC’s Teacher In-Service Program. Innovation and Branding, Keynote Speaker for LTC’s Leading Edge Series.
-BrandU Keynote speaker for an LTC sponsored event and for LTC’s marketing classes in Branding.
5. Long-Range Strategic Planning. Jake’s has and continues to consult with LTC on it’s long-term development and expansion plans. We are currently involved in fund-raising efforts for the new manufacturing training center expansion.
Product Design. David Saunders and LTC Student Tracie Kaderabek
, Jeff Leismer, Russell Meschler collaborated on the design of a product called
SPRAYBOX that LTC could manufacture and market. LTC students created welded prototypes/construction drawings.
While the initiative is still new, our longer-term goal is to help an LTC team
of students collaborate in the research, ideation, development, manufacture and
marketing of a product. The ultimate end would be to help LTC students combine
their skills to launch a new company in the Sheboygan/Manitowoc County area.
7. Expansion of the LTC Culinary Institute’s capabilities. Jake’s is currently working with PowerBox, an Oostburg-based marketing research firm (Brad Flatoff of PowerBox) on a project to develop a food focus group training facility at LTC’s new Culinary Institute. The purpose will be to fine tune LTC’s facility and then to train LTC students in the art of focus group moderation for new product development in the food category.
8. LTC Marketing Initiatives. LTC’s Director of Marketing, Julie Mireke worked with Jake’s Café members Philip Leclerc (LeClerc Motion Pictures) and Zak DeVries (Zak Sound Design) and Jodi Emery (Talk Media) on the development of a television campaign for LTC. We consulted with one of LTC’s student interns in the development of the strategy and copy to be sure that the television commercials would resonate with current students and prospects.
9. LTC Student Networking Events. Thirsty Thursdays, Roundtables, Classification Talks and even the annual Jake’s Café Open House have provided many opportunities for LTC Students to connect with the area employers.
10. Individual projects with LTC Students, Staff and specific Jake’s Café members. These projects vary widely depending upon the needs of our individual members. They have ranged from the writing/design of manuals, programming of websites, database entry, new product development, special events and presentation design.
The collaborative nature of the LTC/Jake’s Cafe relationship is purely designed to support economic development, job growth and workforce development. As a resident partner, LTC staffs an office at Jake’s Café to provide counsel and access to services through the LTC Center for Entrepreneurship. They place college students as interns to assist Jake’s members in marketing, graphic & web design, administrative/events, accounting and general business support. Dubbed the LTC FutureForce, these college students build on their coursework through real-world experiences at Jake’s.
While Jake’s Café has collaborated with LTC on many fronts since 2010, but our LTC Marketing Initiatives stand to have the greatest/broadest long-term influence on LTC. The purpose of the initiative was to change the stigma attached to the 2 year vs. the 4-year college education.
Any new venture has its share of challenges. In this case, the process of understanding Jake’s members’ needs, matching those needs with the LTC degree program interns who would best be able to fill those needs and determining work schedules which met everyone’s needs provided a degree of complexity. In the case of working with Jake’s members on the TV Marketing initiative, it was purely budget/timing issues. It meant that Café members had to invest more of their time on a tighter timetable to meet LTC’s broadcast deadlines. Julie Mirecki, LTC’s Director of Marketing provided clear direction to Café Members including: Tryg Jacobson (writer/producer), Philip Leclerc (Director/Editor), Chris Leclerc (Cinematographer), Zak DeVries (Sound Designer) and Jody Emery (Media Planner/Buyer). As all of the individual businesses were located under a single roof, it made the creative process run smoothly.
As in any marketing initiative, it can take several years to determine the outcome of an effort. We do feel, however, that this campaign is threading the need to a broader-based marketing effort to help prospective students and their parents feel better and more confident with a decision to choose LTC over a traditional 4 Year College. This is by no means a marketing effort to “downplay” the benefits of a 4-Year education. It’s simply “permission” to those who are not sure they’re prepared to make the investment in a 4-year college education. Time, money, distance, difficulty and a host of other factors play into everyone’s decision. We just wanted to remove the stigma associated with the 2-Year Technical College Degree so young people do what they want to do…not what society suggests might be the best path to their success. LTC is more about bringing the process of self-discovery a little closer to home. We think the new television campaign is helping to do this, and we look forward to expanding it into outdoor in the next year or so.
Here are links to the finished TV spots.
It’s really less about Jake’s Cafe and more about how each member benefited through collaboration process. While LTC stands to benefit as the advantages of a 2-Year education are more clearly understood, the project challenged each contributor to take their skills to higher levels with outcomes that further validated their business propositions. It should be noted that all of the contributors were “start-up” businesses.
Long-term, the Jake’s Café Creative Community is committed to helping Sheboygan County project a unique and meaningful promise to the outside world as one of the best places to live/work in America. Helping shape and project that promise in our collaborative efforts with institutions like LTC and the SCEDC (“The Promise of Sheboygan County”) has been a real privilege, yet we recognize that we have to be just as committed to helping “keep” that promise in everything we do at Jake’s Cafe. A big part of keeping the promise is supporting local institutions like LTC that are training our local workforce to hold good paying, meaningful jobs that can support families, continue to grow our middle class and preserve, promote and further develop of our Lakeshore’s wonderful quality of life. LTC is real jewel in Sheboygan County and we all need to work together to do what we can to preserve, protect and advance their initiatives.
Jake’s Café has over 30 members in our creative community. Many have been called upon at different times to help in a variety of LTC Collaborations. Specific to the LTC/Jake’s Café marketing effort, we called upon the expertise of Leclerc Brothers Motion Pictures, ZAK Sound Design and TALK Media. This was not just for the sake of time and efficiency. These companies, while sharing Jake’s belief in LTC, are perhaps the area’s finest in their respective fields.