Lakeland University acquiring Jake’s Café
Jake’s, a Lakeland Community will become Lakeland’s downtown Sheboygan presence
Lakeland University is expanding into downtown Sheboygan 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.
Thanks to the generosity of some well-known local innovators, the university is acquiring Jake’s Café at 529 Ontario Ave., and renaming it Jake’s, a Lakeland Community.
Jake’s, a Lakeland Community, will serve as a collaborative “Communiversity” (community university) that combines Lakeland’s Cooperative Education program with university intellectual resources to create an environment for learning and practice. It will also serve as a resource for community leaders seeking innovative solutions to real-world problems. In addition to expanded programing, Jake’s will continue to host creative communities and startups.
“Jake’s, a Lakeland Community, will attract new students who are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and create new ways for Lakeland to serve as a broader resource to help elevate our community. Whether a student wants to run a small business or has the next big idea, Jake’s will provide a unique laboratory for learning,” said Lakeland President Beth Borgen.
Funding for the transition to Jake’s, a Lakeland Community, has been donated by Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. on behalf of Kohler Co. and by Richard and Kristin (Jacobson) Bemis.
“Our innovation at Lakeland is fueled and inspired by these entrepreneurs who have helped position Sheboygan County nationally and globally,” Borgen said. “We admire the legacies of Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., Richard Bemis and Frank and Tryg Jacobson, and we are proud to work together on these shared visions and passions for building our communities.”
Hub for Experiential Learning
Jake’s will become a hub for experiential learning. Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses, a venture that allows students to develop and run all aspects of businesses, along with Launch’s Develop U, which tailors professional development series for employers, will be a part of Jake’s business plan.
“Our students will play key roles in developing the strategic business plan for Jake’s, while earning credit and invaluable experience,” Borgen said. “Current and prospective students can come to us with an idea, and then hone that idea and their knowledge with mentoring from Lakeland faculty, successful alumni and local entrepreneurs. They will ultimately graduate with a business plan and receive start-up financing.”
Lakeland’s shuttle will provide free transportation for students on the main campus who need easy access to Lakeland’s downtown Sheboygan location.
Jake’s, a Lakeland Community, will remain the home office of the existing roster of entrepreneurs and business owners. Borgen said Lakeland is considering innovative ways to leverage the full commercial kitchen, café space and other unique benefits of the venue.
Discussions to foster collaborative programming with other community organizations are ongoing. One of the goals for Jake’s is to create a space to unify community efforts and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation for learners at all stages in their careers.
“The mindset for a growing number of incoming students is focused on entrepreneurship,” said Britanni Meinnert, associate vice president of Lakeland’s Cooperative Education program. “Between our Co-Op program, this new location and the roles that our students will play in its development, Lakeland has developed unique ways to engage students and help them become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Proceeds generated from the operations of Jake’s will support continued expansion of Lakeland’s Cooperative Education program, Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses and student scholarships.
Donated funds will also be used to create an endowed chair at Lakeland, the Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. Chair for Business & Entrepreneurship. The person in this new role will be located at Jake’s and work directly with students and local business leaders to develop a long-term plan for the space that includes experiential learning at all levels, while integrating broader community planning and innovation.
“This new chair and the tenants of Jake’s will become integrated in the mentorship and development of our young talent,” said Paul Pickhardt, dean of Lakeland’s Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology. “This approach benefits our students but also local businesses and the overall development of Sheboygan.”
Lakeland will explore ways to share its main campus academic, research and fine arts programming at Jake’s. The university will also explore adding an emphasis in entrepreneurship in its Schilcutt School of Business, Science & Technology. Jake’s will also become a space for LU students and faculty to study and work, while easily accessing Sheboygan community life and amenities.
History of Jake’s Café
Jake’s is named for Frank “Jake” Jacobson, who founded Jacobson Advertising and moved the business to the Ontario Avenue location in 1962. Jacobson’s son, Tryg, joined the family business, and in 1983 joined coworker Jon Rost to form Jacobson Rost. The renowned agency acquired adjacent buildings and expanded into the existing 20,000 sq. ft. campus.
When Tryg and his wife, Ann Marie, sold the business, they retained the Sheboygan property. In honor of his parents, Jake and Elizabeth “Betty” Jacobson, they founded Jake’s Cafe, a place designed to attract and nurture a community of creative people from all walks of life.
“Jake’s, a Lakeland Community, combines my father’s creative spirit, natural curiosity to explore and his genuine desire to help others achieve their dreams with the region’s only Cooperative Education university and Lakeland’s 160-year history of innovation,” said Tryg Jacobson, who also serves on the Lakeland Board of Trustees. “This is a perfect match, and I am excited to watch us inspire this region’s future entrepreneurs and innovators while continuing the mission of Jake’s.”
Borgen added, “As downtown Sheboygan enjoys a renaissance that is rooted in community-wide activities, the arts, great food and spaces for people to gather, Jake’s will complement those efforts as we launch our Communiversity. As we expand our Co-Op program and add new partners, having a significant presence in downtown Sheboygan is a natural next step.”
A community-wide celebration will be planned at a future date.