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Horizons: Businesses succeed through creative adaptation

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I have been fortunate to learn community partnership and business from area businessmen and women for the past 14 years. While my formal education started with Deer Creek and Wadena combining to form W/DC and then continued to Saint Cloud State University, my most experienced education came from the Cyber Café and you, the community.

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The Cyber Cafe is a teen technology center that focuses on giving the opportunity for all teens to compete in the technology world through the avenue of free computer usage. Also, the Cyber Cafe is another means; like a school, church, or other hang-outs, that make teens feel safe and allows them to be vocal. Adults also stop in to have a cup of coffee, or hop on a computer and they feel comfortable knowing that their monies are contributing towards the Teen Center. Bridging the generation gap has been an under-toned success from these interactions.

Fifteen years ago there was a need for a Teen Center that would make our teens in area communities feel welcome and involved. Fast forward a year to the completion of the Cyber Café which functioned as a non-profit serving that need. However, that need got a severe challenge when a very important grant got cut. There was a decision to be made; if the Teen Center was to be, or if it was set for retirement just after infancy. This was the origin of the coffee shop.

But at that time, the Cyber Café appeared to be only for teens. Gradually programming needs arose and then came the addition of fundraising events such as Eat...Click...Chill and Cyber Fiesta. These events brought community members in and with that its broader recognition began.

As any house or business owner knows, ownership of a building brings repair and maintenance. So using our building space, we have office space rentals to support those costs. Following the same goals and principles as the Cyber Café we added managing the temporary Community Center. Through this connection partnerships with M-State and Tri County Hospital were formed, increasing the membership base at the Community Center.

This is what I have learned: If you are thinking of business entrepreneurship....be firm with your ideas and thesis. But, how you get there may be formed by many different avenues of experience. You do not know you have succeeded until you have gone through trials and errors. Failing, is not wanting to go through them.

Randy Jahnke is the Cyber Café director and the Manager for the temporary Wadena Community Center. You will find him on any given day behind the counter at the Cyber Café preparing coffee and deeply involved in conversation with community members who appreciate the opportunity to pause in such a unique setting. Later in the day the area youth begin to arrive and they help and attention. He also coaches 8th grade basketball for Wadena Deer Creek High School. Randy has made the personal decision to remain in the Wadena region and to contribute to its vitality.

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