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Enabling innovation across the state
Nicole Wakeman, student, University Relations
UNI's Business and Community Services (BCS) had a standout year in 2012 despite national economic challenges, and succeeded at providing services to all 99 counties in the state of Iowa. BCS works with Iowa businesses, entrepreneurs and communities to provide outreach in starting, maintaining and growing businesses. BCS is currently comprised of 15 programs, including the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, the Institute for Decision Making and the Center for Energy & Environmental Education, which delivers technical assistance, marketing research and business incubation to Iowa clients across the state.
The Institute for Decision Making is just one of 15 programs that comprises UNI's Business and Community Services.
During 2012, BCS served more than 1,000 business and community clients. The MyEntre.Net online community, Iowa's online portal for small business resources, currently serves 10,900 individuals. BCS also has two incubators: the Innovation Incubator and the R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator, a program of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, which assist alumni, faculty, students and community members in creating and expanding their businesses. The incubators and MyEntre.Net together created 266 ventures and 481 new jobs during 2012.
BCS not only aids Iowa, but it also creates great benefits for UNI. "BCS programs provide a direct linkage to community-level projects and research topics for students and faculty," says Randy Pilkington, BCS executive director. "In addition, BCS staff members serve as UNI ambassadors as they reach all four corners of the state."
The center also provides opportunities for UNI students, who are involved in all of the BCS programs. "We provide experiential learning opportunities for students in many majors, and approximately 2,000 students participate campus wide," says Pilkington.
Through BCS, students are able to make connections and network with various Iowa businesses, which could provide potential job opportunities in the future. BCS also provides experience through classroom projects, internships, student associations and entrepreneurship.
One reason for BCS's great success is its unique programs and services. The programs offered by BCS are individualized and tailored specifically to the needs of each client. According to Pilkington, no other Regent institution in the state of Iowa offers the same unique outreach programs as those created by BCS. This year, the program aided more than 300 startup businesses. The online MyEntre.Net support system, the market intelligence services provided by UNI's Strategic Marketing Services, and the environmental reviews provided to small businesses by the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at UNI are just a few of the unique services provided by BCS.
With its unique approach, creative programs and hard work, BCS has been able to make significant impacts on Iowa's economic development. "UNI has engaged with thousands of businesses and communities across the state and provided uniquely tailored services to help them grow," says Pilkington.
For an in-depth look at how UNI is enabling innovation across the state, visit www.bcs.uni.edu/techtransfer.
Business and Community Services is part of UNI's College of Business Administration. For more information, please visit www.uni.edu/bcs.