DCTC Delivers Entrepreneurship Credit Course at Dakota County Jail

Bob Voss teaches Introduction to Small Business

Dakota County Technical College delivered a two-credit course, ENTR 1170: Introduction to Small Business, at the Dakota County Jail in Hastings, Minnesota. The course ran during April 2021 and was taught by Bob Voss, an entrepreneurship instructor at the college.

Brenda Lyseng serves as Title III project director at DCTC and Inver Hills Community College. Brenda worked on the project with Sergeant Jacob Schak at the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office Detention Services. She reported that the correctional sergeant’s assistance was instrumental in getting the course underway.

Other DCTC staff involved in the project were Heath Baumgard, director of recruitment and admissions, and Ron Erickson, dean of business, design, health and education. Michael Berndt, DCTC and Inver Hills president, greeted the students; Kerry Lurken, admissions representative, talked about the admissions process; Natalie Shrestha, academic and financial aid advisor, held a modified orientation that focused on study skills and college success; Anna Voight, associate director of student life, put together a packet of DCTC swag for each student.

“This is the first time the college has run a credit course at the Dakota County Jail,” Brenda said. “We have previously offered noncredit options at the facility. I don’t think this happens very often in jail settings. It was important to everyone working on the project that the inmates understood they were DCTC students.”

Brenda added that DCTC aims to continue and expand the academic partnership with the jail.

“Our mission as a college is to provide education for employment,” she said. “We have to create opportunities for a variety of people to have access to education. For those that are incarcerated, education can be empowering and can give hope for a different life when they return home. Our communities are looking for employees and this is a population that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Faculty perspective…

Bob Voss has taught courses focused on entrepreneurship for nearly two decades. He was impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment the Dakota County Jail inmates brought to his classroom.

“This was a great experience for me,” Bob said, “and I am more than willing to go back and teach the class again and again! The students (inmates) really wanted to be there because they wanted to make a change in their lives. Every one of them looked on this class as a second chance to get their lives back on track. I wish all my students had the desire to learn as much as these men did! I feel truly blessed to be able to help these men!”

More about the classroom experience…

The students taking Introduction to Small Business at the Dakota County Jail learned what it takes to own, operate, and grow a small business successfully. They also learned the personal traits and characteristics necessary to succeed in the fast-paced small business environment.

The course examined the various ways small business can start. Some of these ways include starting a business from scratch, buying an existing business, or buying a franchise. Various case studies were analyzed as to why some businesses fail while others succeed.

In addition, the students identified their individual strengths and weaknesses while discovering which of these areas help or hinder the success of small business ownership.

Although there is no way to 100 percent “failure-proof” a business, the students got the chance to study the three main secrets to launching a small business successfully.

Sergeant Jacob Schak: Dakota County Sheriff’s Office perspective

During the month of April, our jail programs staff facilitated an Introduction to Small Business course, instructed by Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) Professor Bob Voss.
Professor Voss visited the jail and spent four weeks teaching the initial group of 13 inmates, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 4:30 pm.The attendees worked diligently and we are proud to say all of them passed the class and achieved two college credits from DCTC. Once released from custody, they may enroll and continue their educational goals with DCTC.
This style of educational programming not only positively impacts the participants, but our community as well by providing tools and resources for these men to successfully transition back into it. We look forward to our continued partnership with DCTC!
A special thank you to Special Duty Correctional Deputy Jon Mueller for helping Bob Voss behind the scenes. Jon is one of several deputies assigned to our Inmates Motivated to Change (IMC) Unit.
Jacob Schak
Correctional Sergeant
Detention Services
Dakota County Sheriff’s Office 

Intro to Small Business at Dakota County Jail gallery

Student testimonials

“I learned a lot during these few weeks with Bob Voss.  I enjoyed his teaching technique as well as his personality.  The classes over a month time frame worked perfect.”

“The information will help me when I get out starting my own food from home business.”

“I learned more about myself than I thought.”

“I loved the class. Bob did a great job at teaching me things I never knew about business and definitely helped me shape many decisions for business ventures going forward.”

More about Bob Voss…

Back in 2002, after years as a powerhouse entrepreneur, Bob Voss began thinking that he was ready to pass on his knowledge. An expert in video production and duplication, Bob had founded two successful duplication companies in the Twin Cities. He had mastered the business of starting and running a business, but still wasn’t satisfied.

Bob Voss

“I answered an ad in the Star Tribune looking for a business entrepreneur instructor at Dakota County Technical College,” Bob said. “I had no teaching experience, but when I walked into the group interview I knew immediately that I had the job.”

Bob beat out 50 other applicants that day and earned the chance to get a new program off the ground. As it turned out, the interview committee members must have known what they were doing.

Just four years later, Bob was named DCTC 2005–2006 Outstanding Instructor of the Year. In January of 2008, he was named the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship Faculty Member of the Year, a national award that included $1,000 in cash and $1,000 in matching funds to support the DCTC Business Entrepreneur program.

“I was 52 when I started teaching,” Bob said. “That goes to show that it’s never too late to find your calling in life. You can’t just say that you want to be something. You have to know that you are that something. In my case, I am a teacher.”

Bob understands that knowledge and clarity are key tools on the path to prosperity in business. The dream is just the beginning. He will never tell one of his students that their dream won’t work. His job is to teach them how to make their business dream a reality.

“My wife, Dianne, wonders sometimes why I want to keep teaching into my retirement years,” Bob said with a sparkle in his eye. “I have far more energy now than I ever did when I was starting my own businesses. I like this stuff. I really do. My job is to take national statistics on small business failures and beat the hell out of them.”

Small Business Entrepreneurship at DCTC

The Small Business Entrepreneurship program teaches small business management skills along with all the necessary knowledge and skill sets to start and grow a new small business. The program’s central core is the planning of a small business to ensure that the business has the best possible chance of succeeding. The 16-credit certificate can stand alone for individuals with existing skills or complement a variety of existing technical programs.

Learn more about Business programs and courses at DCTC by contacting:

Room 2-110