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EntreFEST Celebrates 15 Years
Annual event with focus on innovation returns June 8 and 9
May. 21, 2023 6:00 am
Gearing up for its 15th year, EntreFEST has clearly become an Iowa tradition.
Which is a little funny to think about, considering EntreFEST’s calling card has always been to challenge age-old traditions in the business world.
Not only is EntreFEST returning to Iowa City for the 15th Anniversary event, but Mo Holland — an EntreFEST founder who helped bring the event to life back in 2009 — also will return to the event as one of its keynote speakers.
Aside from celebrating this milestone, EntreFEST won’t spend much time looking over its shoulder at the past. From the beginning, the event has always focused on what lies ahead for the business and entrepreneurial communities in Iowa and throughout the Midwest.
“The common thread of the EntreFEST story is that the entrepreneurial and innovation community in Iowa and the Midwest comes together to make this ecosystem stronger,” said NewBoCo Director of Events Jourdan McChesney. “It’s great to look back on what’s made this event so successful for 15 years. But at the same time, the idea of embracing what’s new is exactly what has made EntreFEST successful — and that’s what has us the most excited about this year.”
More than 65 speakers, 50 breakout rooms, three keynote speakers, and individual coaching and investor sessions were featured at EntreFEST in 2022. Organizers say this year will be no different.
In addition to Holland — who specializes in entrepreneurship economic development with 20 years of experience — EntreFEST’s lineup of speakers also includes Debi Durham, who serves as Director for both the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority. Durham has led the IEDA for over 13 years, successfully securing billions of dollars for economic development projects throughout the state.
EntreFEST regularly features sessions that focus on the biggest current issues facing business owners and entrepreneurs. Topics in 2023 are sure to feature the impacts of ChatGPT and other AI programs, sessions on streamlining workflow, and ways to improve diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace.
In fact, one new element of EntreFEST this year is a specific track of sessions on Iowa Supplier Diversity and DEI. Attendees will be given content that helps them learn how to create their own programs to diversify the consultants, suppliers, and vendors they work with. Attendees also will learn steps they need to take if they would like to be hired by a company.
This year marks EntreFEST’s second straight appearance in Iowa City. Past locations include Cedar Falls, Coralville, Cedar Rapids, West Des Moines, and Ames.
“It is great to be able to host EntreFEST in different locations,” said Jill Wilkins, NewBoCo’s Interim Executive Director. “It gives us the ability to work with different partners, highlight various communities, give our attendees continued unique experiences, and keep the event fresh. As always, we are focused on bringing a diverse mix of people together to learn from experts in their field, meet new people and build relationships that can help advance business.”
EntreFEST is undoubtedly an Iowa tradition — and a nod to our state’s willingness to counter tradition for the sake of innovation. For business owners who want to stay on the cutting edge of Iowa’s ecosystem, EntreFEST 2023 is a can't-miss event.
Happy 15th, EntreFEST. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
Tickets are currently available at EntreFEST.com.
Rob Merritt is a resident of Cedar Rapids and serves as the director of communications for NewBoCo.
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