For the past two decades, the University of Northern Iowa Center for Business Growth and Innovation (UNI CBGI) has built a network of resources and services designed to attract, connect, and accelerate small business and start-up growth with business assistance, capital, partner resources, and valuable connections to their peers.
The success of UNI CBGI initiatives can be attributed to our team’s philosophy to listen to small business owners, imagine what we can do to make life better, and to create solutions leveraging our university and technology assets. Annually, we evaluate how we’ve done in terms of economic impact, user experiences, and potential to scale. We have learned how to better understand entrepreneurs through online interactions, an e-mail listserv, statewide annual survey, regional workshops and outreach events, and EntreFEST- the largest Midwest celebration of entrepreneurs and the people who support them.
The Center for Business Growth and Innovation is a division of Business & Community Services at the University of Northern Iowa.
- 1994 – SBDC expanded to include the UNI Regional Business Center and the 4th Street Incubator located in downtown Waterloo
- 2003 – MyEntre.Net was created in select counties and included an online community resource for small business owners. Free online webinars were offered twice a week.
- 2008 – MyEntre.Net went statewide, the first EntreFEST was held, and the Innovation Incubator was built.
- 2009 – The Regional Business Center moved its offices to UNI campus
- 2010 – Dream Big Grow Here features a statewide $1,000 contest
- 2011 – The first statewide Small Business Survey was completed and the Business Concierge began delivering market intelligence to Iowa small business owners
- 2012 – Advance Iowa began serving mid-size Iowa firms and MyEntre.Net partnered with IEDA to create IASourceLink
- 2014 – EDA Regional Entrepreneurship Project began through a partnership with the UNI Institute for Decision Making and the first Small Business Report was published.
- 2015 – The UNI Regional Business Center and MyEntre.Net brands became the UNI Center for Business Growth and Innovation
Over the past 20 years, CBGI has strived to innovate and create new programs to serve the Iowa small business ecosystem. Please visit our program pages and contact us to learn more.