Lakeland celebrates grand opening of Jake’s, A Lakeland Community
Lakeland University on Wednesday celebrated the grand opening of Jake’s, A Lakeland Community, with a packed house of Lakeland donors and community friends.
The event was an opportunity for Lakeland to share its plans for its downtown Sheboygan location at 529 Ontario Ave., thank the donors who made the project possible and introduce Stephanie Hoskins, the inaugural Herbert Kohler & Frank Jacobson Chair for Business and Entrepreneurship, who will lead Jake’s.
Lakeland acquired Jake’s, A Lakeland Community, earlier this spring to provide more access to its award-winning Cooperative Education program, recruit the next generation of entrepreneurially minded students and position the institution as a significant resource and partner for the region.
It is housed in the former Jake’s Café, which was created by Tryg Jacobson in honor of his parents, Frank “Jake” and Elizabeth “Betty” Jacobson, as a space that attracted and nurtured a community of creative people from all walks of life. That mission will continue.
Funding for the transition to Jake’s, A Lakeland Community, and the creation of the Herbert Kohler & Frank Jacobson Chair for Business and Entrepreneurship was donated by Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., on behalf of Kohler Co. and by Richard and Kristin (Jacobson) Bemis.
Those benefactors joined LU President Beth Borgen Wednesday to help celebrate the transition.
Kohler noted that the concept of entrepreneurialism was at the core of his grandfather, John Michael Kohler, and has been an essential building block in the growth of Kohler Co. He said Jake’s will be an experiential learning hub in the tradition of Kohler Co.
“Jake’s, A Lakeland Community will be a creative laboratory living on the leading edge, embracing the great unknown, where entrepreneurially minded individuals can innovate, develop business plans and thrive freely to help achieve better communities,” Kohler said.
“This next-level cooperative for entrepreneurially minded individuals, educators and business leaders will encourage new collaboration and innovation and help elevate our community in the process.”
Richard Bemis, who married Jake and Betty’s daughter, Kristin, recalled that Jake grew up during the American Great Depression and he knew what it meant to extend a helping hand.
“I’m hoping the tenants of Jake’s will carry on the tradition of extending a helping hand to Lakeland students as they explore their entrepreneurial passion,” Bemis said. “Your experience, the expertise you’ve got and the lessons learned may just help start a new business. Don’t hold back. Extend yourself as you share this wonderful facility with Lakeland’s students.”
Bemis noted that Sheboygan has always been an important part of Lakeland's success by providing students, donors and community leaders to aid the university’s success.
“Lakeland’s presence at Jake’s will only strengthen this town and gown relationship,” Bemis said.
Tryg Jacobson, former co-owner of renowned marketing firm Jacobson Rost, shared stories about his parents and celebrated the relationships with Bemis and Kohler. He thanked former Lakeland Board of Trustees Chair Bob Melzer, retired Lakeland President David Black and Borgen for preserving and growing “this incredible community of people that my parents started 60 years ago.
“Now it’s a place for Lakeland students, faculty and people in the community to come, connect, collaborate and start new things,” he said.
Kris Bemis added, “Jake and Betty would be so very pleased with this vision for the future.”
Borgen said Jake’s is an ideal way for Lakeland to expand Cooperative Education, student-run businesses and entrepreneurial thinking in the region while carrying on the legacy of Frank & Betty Jacobson.
She noted that more than 80 percent of Lakeland’s graduates choose to work and raise a family in this region upon their graduation.
“With students coming from rural Wisconsin, inner city Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, around the country and around the globe, we are truly a talent importer,” Borgen said. “With the experience and learning that will occur at Jake’s, our students may also be able to graduate with a business plan and seed money.
“Hands-on learning from industry experts and mentors, aligned with the knowledge gained in the classroom from our talented faculty, creates a rich learning environment providing our students with transferable skills that will benefit careers we have not yet even imagined. This network of existing business owners and other entrepreneurs who choose to incubate their ideas and businesses through Jake’s will create an invaluable resource for future leaders and contribute to the advancement of our community.”
Borgen noted a new agreement between Lakeland and the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation as a further commitment to Lakeland’s collaborative approach to growing innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.
“We're just beginning our creative journey, and I can't wait to see the masterpiece it becomes,” Borgen said.