UNI Business and Community Services, as of July 2013, has been designated as an EDA University Center by the Economic Development Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The EDA University Center program is specifically designed to marshal the resources located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. The program supports and recognizes institutions of higher education having extensive resources, including specialized research, outreach, and technology-transfer and commercialization capabilities, as well as recognized staff expertise and resources. University Centers:
- Focus on areas with significant economic distress
- Address the economic development needs of the area
- Complement, rather than replicate, the efforts of other technical assistance providers in the area
UNI’s EDA University Center Regional Entrepreneurship Project (REP) is a statewide project devoted to creating/strengthening:
to foster entrepreneurial thinking and innovative endeavors, generate local support for individuals willing to pursue careers as small business owners and to invest in their communities and emphasize local economic development strategies which maximize the potential of small business development
to enhance the system of counseling, training and services designed to provide professional development opportunities to small business owners and service providers
to ensure awareness of, and accessibility to, funding resources available in the regions as well as the filling of funding gaps at all levels of business development
to expand opportunities for entrepreneurs (all stages/level) to share best practices, mentor each other, consider collaboration and identify service needs within regions.
The REP continues to serve regions across Iowa during the five-year project period through extensive research, strategic planning and implementation assistance. Regions are being selected for service based on economic disaster (e.g. plant closure, mass layoff, natural disasters etc.); economic distress (e.g., high levels of unemployment, low-income, etc.); and a willingness on the part of regional leadership to foster entrepreneurial development.