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University of Northern Iowa to introduce statewide Regional Entrepreneurship Project

Program funded through annual grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The  University of Northern Iowa wants to take the entrepreneurial pulse of the state.

Through its Business and Community Services division, UNI is working with two regions to determine how to best attract companies to the state and how to help small entrepreneurs grow, said LaDene Bowen, associate director of UNI's Institute for Decision Making.

The first region includes Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie counties, and the second region is made up of Hamilton and Wright counties.

As the program moves through its five-year grant period, additional regions will be added, Bowen said.

"Entrepreneurism has just really widely been acknowledged as an economic-development strategy for communities of all sizes," she said. "The challenge is that few communities really possess the capacity to encourage new start-ups and to really nurture businesses in a way that achieves real economic growth."

The project is focusing on developing a support system for entrepreneurship development in six Iowa regions in total, Bowen said. The program is being funded through an annual $150,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration's University Center program.

After the research has been completed, the team will go into the region and recruit community and countywide stakeholders and present its research findings."The real key to that, a lot of times there will be strategic plans to do things, but there's no accountability," Bowen said. "The model that we have had a great deal of success with at UNI really hinges on responsibility."

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