Economic Alliance, NewBoCo form partnership

Will coproduce new, existing entrepreneurial events

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The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) are teaming up to produce a number of new regional entrepreneurial events and programs.

Jill Wilkins, a member of the Metro Economic Alliance staff, has been named events director. She will lead EntreFEST, the largest entrepreneurship and innovation conference in Iowa as well as other efforts in a new position funded by both organizations.

EntreFEST, which was canceled earlier this year due to a number of factors, will return May 4 and May 5, 2017, in Iowa City. NewBoCo announced in June that it was taking over the event, which attracted about 1,000 attendees in 2015.

“This partnership will leverage the strengths of each organization,” said NewBoCo Executive Director Eric Engelmann in a news release. “It will focus our combined energy and resources toward regional entrepreneurship events and programming.”

Wilkins, who worked for the Cedar Rapids Downtown District before joining the staff of the Metro Economic Alliance, brings more than 10 years of event planning and community development experience to her new position.

Wilkins led the growth and development of the Downtown Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Market from an average of 6,000 patrons per market to an average of 15,000 patrons per market.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to be involved in the regional entrepreneurial community, as it is an area we feel is vital to our business community’s growth,” said Doug Neumann, Metro Economic Alliance interim president and CEO.

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