Craig Engelke and Pat Dougherty, UI Partners’ new IT consultants for its Sioux City and Council Bluffs locations, are ready to bolster the small business scene in their areas. The first UI Partners office opened at the University of Iowa last summer, and the new locations at Iowa Western Community College and Western Iowa Tech Community College held their grand openings on Jan. 13.
Hayley Yearian, the Associate Director of Economic Development for the University of Iowa’s Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development, said, “We are thrilled that Western Iowa Tech Community College and Iowa Western Community College are willing to collaborate with us in the pursuit to take UI Partners across the state. These new locations will continue our quest to assist small business owners state-wide with IT related projects while helping students gain real-world experience. Watching the UI Partners program grow is exciting and I look forward to seeing Craig and Pat create a positive experience in western Iowa.”
Craig Engelke, the IT consultant for the UI Partners office in Sioux City, has lived in the Siouxland area for the past 20 years and has worked in the optical laboratory business as both a business consultant and a network administrator. When he saw the UI Partners job listing, he was excited about the opportunity to work toward business and IT solutions as part of a larger team.
Engelke will be working with local Siouxland businesses to understand what IT needs they have with a free IT assessment. If the businesses decide to move forward with the solutions offered to them, Engelke will coordinate on the projects with a team of student interns.
Engelke plans to hire two interns at the Sioux City office to begin with, but said the office could employ several at a time, depending on the workload required by clients.
“It would be a great dilemma to have if we had enough work coming in that we were hard-pressed to find enough interns to accomplish everything,” Engelke said.
So far, Engelke said there has been a very positive response to UI Partners’ presence in Siouxland, and a number of businesses have already showed interest.
“What I’m hearing from the economic development people is we’re going to be far more busy than we can imagine,” Engelke said.
Like Engelke, Dougherty will be recruiting small businesses with IT needs to let UI Partners help solve their problems, as well as recruiting students for the work.
Dougherty said he is thrilled to be in this position, particularly because of the opportunity to interact with students and give them real world experience so they are attractive to future employers when they graduate.
“I hope to connect with some students and help them grow,” said Dougherty. “To provide a good, safe harbor environment for them so they want to come to work every day and likewise be able to have a tremendous amount of satisfied clients who will be knocking down the doors saying we really need more of this.”
Both Dougherty and Engelke hope UI Partners will enable local businesses to think outside the box and move forward with ideas they may not have had the time or ability to accomplish. They also hope that by increasing the number of qualified IT employees, larger corporations will be drawn to the area, and in return, more technology students will see employment opportunities and choose to stay in western Iowa.
The UI Partners program was established by the UI Office of Research and Economic Development to help small Iowa businesses innovate and grow by solving information technology (IT) challenges and providing technical training.
By Anne Easker