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BHSU to host SD CEO conference to engage women in manufacturing industry in Yankton

The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) Women’s Business Center at Black Hills State University is expanding its outreach with a Women’s Business Conference in Yankton in September, aiming to motivate women professionals in the manufacturing industry.

The 2014 SD CEO Yankton Women’s Business Conference is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12 at the Kelly Inn in Yankton. The SD CEO, Women’s Business Center, provides business education and training for the business community. The half-day conference includes guest speakers, networking opportunities and exhibitors, all who will encourage and inspire women leaders in today’s workforce. Two BHSU faculty members are guest speakers at the event.

This is the first SD CEO conference in Yankton and Helen Merriman, director of the SD CEO, said the addition allows the center to better serve women statewide who are interested in starting, strengthening and expanding a business.

The conference places an emphasis on the manufacturing field and women working in male dominated industries. Yankton has 26 manufacturing companies, which according to the Yankton Chamber of Commerce, is two and a half times the national average for a community. Regional Technical Education Center, located in Yankton, offers an opportunity for students to earn an associate of science engineering technology degree from BHSU.

“We’re supporting what BHSU is doing through the engineering technology program in Yankton, as well as complimenting the Yankton business community,” Merriman said.

Dr. Priscilla Romkema, BHSU Dean of the College of Business & Natural Sciences, and Dr. Bobbi Looney, assistant professor of management at BHSU, will each speak at the event. Merriman will also present a session about relationship building.

Looney said she hopes to engage the emerging workforce and revitalize the current workforce at the conference, promoting change in the professional industry. She added that many employers struggle keeping employees, noting that on average, young professionals between 20 and 30 years old will change jobs every three years.

“They are checking out the market and testing their skills in the workforce,” Looney said. “As employers, you spend money on training and then they take those skills somewhere else. I want to show employers how to encourage loyalty and retain employees.”

Romkema will discuss emotional intelligence, how to respond to situations and explain how emotions make an impact on a leader’s decisions.

Kari Karst, president of BX Civil & Construction Inc. and Kristi Palecek, general manager of Truxedo, Inc. also will speak. Both companies are part of the Yankton manufacturing industry.

Palecek is the only female general manager at a manufacturing company in Yankton and she will talk to attendees about opportunities for women in her industry.

Karst will share insights gained through three decades of working in traditionally male environments including engineering and construction.

“I truly hope this will help younger women who are already engaged in a traditionally male career to continue to persevere and be successful,” Karst said. “My long-term goal is to facilitate change in my industry so that more girls and their parents will consider careers in construction as a viable and desirable career path.”

Registration for the 2014 SD CEO Yankton’s Women Business Conference is $75 before Sept. 2. Registration after Sept. 2 is $90. Register online at www.edoutreach.bhsu.edu/sdceo or call 605-642-6435.

For more information and a schedule, go to www.bhsu.edu/sdceo.

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