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January 31, 2013

Innovation Center Leader Recognized with Pair of Honors

Jeri Koehler

Jeri Koehler

Jeri Koehler, director of the Innovation Center at Rogers State University, has been recognized with a pair of business honors recognizing her leadership in the regional business community.

On Jan. 26, she was recognized as the Business Citizen of the Year during the annual Claremore Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. The award recognizes local business leaders who have demonstrated volunteer service in the community, accomplishments in improving the city, character and civic leadership.

The previous week, Koehler was named to the Tulsa Business and Legal News' annual 40 Under 40 list, which recognizes young business and community leaders who have made a positive impact on their business or community. The winners will be formally honored during a March 28 dinner event at the Hard Rock Hotel in Catoosa.

"It's an honor to be recognized for these individual awards, but I feel that it's really a reflection of the good work that we are performing here at RSU and at the Innovation Center," she said.

RSU President Dr. Larry Rice praised the hard work and dedication of Koehler, an RSU alumnus.

"We're proud that one of our own has been recognized for her work as a community leader, which is something that we seek to instill in all our students," he said.

Koehler has been with the Innovation Center since 2005 and was named the facility's director this summer following the retirement of Dr. Ray Brown. A former small business owner and operator, Koehler has extensive experience in business development, marketing, management and finance. She said those experiences have been valuable to her as she relates with clients and others with whom the center works.

The RSU Innovation Center provides companies with support and resources to assist the growth from business concept to profitability. It also houses an incubator program that provides advantages to start-ups, including close links to the university's academic resources and professional, on-site business assistance.

In addition to her bachelor's degree in business administration from RSU, Koehler earned a Master of Business Administration from Cameron University.

She serves on the boards of directors for the Northeast Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board, Claremore Chamber of Commerce, Hope Harbor Children's Home, the RSU Alumni Association and Claremore Main Street, where she is chair of the Economic Restructuring Committee and a past board president. She also is a past board president of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Claremore.

During her time with the Innovation Center, Koehler was key member behind the city of Claremore becoming the first in Oklahoma to be recognized as an Entrepreneur Ready Community. She also created an online Entrepreneur Development Program, which was one of Oklahoma's first online non-credit courses for entrepreneurs. Koehler increased business client counseling at the center by 158 percent during the past five years and developed The Hatch, a student enterprise program that engages RSU students in entrepreneurial activities for college credit. She also has taught an upper-level business course in Entrepreneurship at RSU.

Also recognized during Chamber banquet was Sherri Mullen, a former Innovation Center client who started the successful Tiny Cakes and Truffles shop in Claremore. Mullen was recognized in the entrepreneurship category for retail businesses.

For more information about the Innovation Center, visit www.rsu.edu/innovation or call 918-343-7533.