Bethany College board member Jason Opat was inducted into the Mid-America Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame sponsored by Butler Community College on April 25. The hall of fame “is designed to publicly acknowledge and honor each class of inductees for their entrepreneurial spirit.”
Opat, founder and CEO of Integrated Media Group in Wichita, Kan., was recognized as this year’s rising entrepreneur for being “uncompromisingly driven” in his work in film graphics, video production, animation, interactive media, and gesture technology. IMG’s graphics can be seen in 16 feature-length films, including Transformers,Spiderman 3, and Iron Man, and in the opening policy trailer played in Warren Theatres.
Bethany College President Edward F. Leonard III said, “Bethany congratulates Jason on this achievement. His sense of business and entrepreneurship are highly valued on our board of directors. We are always excited to see Bethany graduates blazing their own career paths.” On May 21, Bethany will award Opat with its alumni Gold Award to recognize the outstanding achievement and service to society. Opat says, “At Bethany College I developed my creative ability and a sense of drive that came from a school that nurtured not only academics but also strong friendships and spirituality.”
Opat, originally from Bennington, Kan., graduated from Bethany College in 1993, where he studied sociology. This sociological background has aided in IMG’s development of a human-like interactivity product line that is currently used by Wesley Medical Center and the Kansas State Historical Museum. IMG is also involved in commercializing gesture technology through the Autonomous Sales Kiosk (ASK) system. ASK technology allows users to control images and data with hand gestures instead of by touching an input device, such as a mouse, keyboard, or screen.
Opat has worked for more than 17 years in the video and film industry. When he started in production, he spent much of his time travelling. However, he wanted to stay closer to his family in Kansas, so he began IMG as a way to help develop the film industry in Kansas. For his efforts, Opat was appointed to the board of the Kansas Film Commission by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, which he now chairs.
In addition, Opat is a member of the Wichita Association for the Motion Picture Arts, a co-founder of the Kansas Film Society, and a member of the Tallgrass Film Festival board. He is also a member of the advisory boards for Wichita State University College of Fine Arts, ITT Technological Institute, Butler County Community College, and Northwest Tech, as well as a council member for the Lord of Life Lutheran Church.
Opat has worked in many regions of the U.S., but he says he believes the Midwestern mentality of valuing personal relationships has contributed to his success. He described this in a Kansas Department of Commerce Proud Kansan video, a project that lets Kansans share why they love living there. Opat comments that Wichita businesses are eager to help one another because “it isn’t about the stuff or the money; it’s just about our personal connection.”
Other Mid-America Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame inductees of 2011 were Charles Q. “Charlie” Chandler IV of Intrust Bank, who won business Entrepreneur of the year, and the Lattner Family Foundation, which won social entrepreneur of the year. Previous inductees are True Knowles, Fran Jabara, R.D. Hubbard, Ted and Betty Vlamis, Helen Galloway, Clifford Stone, George Laham, Galen Myers, Wink and Libba Hartman, Bill and Janice Hanna, and Jon Rolph.