UNI’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center supports innovators and startups | Businessmonthly
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The University of Northern Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) provides support for Iowa entrepreneurs in a changing workforce
With changing workforce trends across the state, entrepreneurs in Iowa are working in more diverse spaces than ever. The recently revamped John Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Center at Northern Iowa University (UNI JPEC) has expanded its off-campus services, creating an entrepreneurship program that supports students, community startups, and established small businesses in northeastern Iowa.
JPEC continues its commitment to UNI with the RJ McElroy Student Business Incubator, an educational learning lab designed to inspire and educate students interested in entrepreneurship and small business. The incubator provides physical office space, networking opportunities and small business support to its seven current tenants.
“JPEC provides students with a collaborative and creative work environment where they can balance their roles as entrepreneurs and students,” said Maddie Palmersheim, Program Assistant at JPEC.
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Compared to their previous offices, Palmersheim says, “Our center layout allows students to choose from a diverse set of workspaces with sections intended for community and others for solitude. Students currently running a business are entitled to free office space where they are encouraged to design and customize to optimize their work and school priorities.
Additionally, JPEC offers students a minor and a certificate in entrepreneurship, which can be as little as nine credit hours. These two programs can complement any degree at UNI, not just business.
Two UNI small business support programs join JPEC’s team and portfolio of services.
For the community, JPEC is now home to the US Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and IASourceLink. This decision allows for better collaboration between support programs for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
SBDC extends JPEC’s reach by providing resources to small businesses outside of UNI’s student body. Appointments are offered at no cost and counselors focus on real small business needs, including start-up assistance, business planning, accounting, human resources, marketing, sales and information. on local and national resources.
IASourceLink connects Iowa entrepreneurs to a network of more than 360 nonprofit resource organizations that provide business development services and has served more than 73,000 entrepreneurs since 2012. They make it easy to connect these organizations to each other and to established, emerging and start-up small businesses. . Network Resource Partners provide a wide range of business-related services, such as marketing, financial planning, sales, loans, technical support and more.
JPEC sees a changing workforce, but not necessarily in a shift to remote working.
All JPEC programs have witnessed a shift in Iowa workforce preferences. While these changes may provide flexibility for Iowans starting their own businesses, JPEC sees more challenges for employers than employees.
“Companies continue to struggle to find and retain employees for in-person jobs,” said Amy Dutton, SBDC regional manager, who has worked with about 300 clients over the past year. “Continued rising costs make it difficult for small businesses to manage prices and payrolls. However, we have seen anecdotal evidence from our local Main Street districts that consumers (at least over the holiday season) looked to local businesses to avoid shipping and supply chain issues, and to support local options.
Since most SBDC clients have physical businesses, Dutton says working remotely isn’t an option. However, “there has been an increase in the number of people starting small home-based businesses – many social media-focused micro-projects. I’ve had a few people who have flexibility due to one spouse now being able to work remotely, and it may affect a business decision or path for the next spouse. I have a client who now has less than 1% of their employees working in an office. They discovered that some of their top performers in the office were having trouble working remotely and vice versa! »
From a campus perspective, a more flexible environment within JPEC provides a space where students can be operational at all times.
“Since we work with students, we aim to meet their needs, even if it’s 9pm on a Monday!” said Palmersheim. “Students appreciate the opportunity to return to the traditional classroom, but are still receptive to using the tools popularized by the pandemic. Our center now welcomes a handful of students during the winter and summer holidays for distance learning programs.
UNI JPEC is ready to meet the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs in Northeast Iowa with quality guidance and support. Through entrepreneurial education, applied learning experiences, and real-world business guidance for students and community members, UNI JPEC helps build a better Iowa.