There is support for Iowa’s entrepreneurs at the University of Northern Iowa.

Entrepreneurs in Iowa work in more diverse spaces because of changing workforce trends. The entrepreneurship program at the University of Northern Iowa has been extended to support students, community entrepreneurs and established small businesses in Northeast Iowa.

The R. J. McElroy Student Business Incubator is an educational learning laboratory that is designed to inspire and educate students interested in entrepreneurship and small businesses. Small business support, networking opportunities, and physical office space are offered by the incubator.

The program assistant at the JPEC said that students can find balance between their roles as entrepreneurs and students by working in a collaborative and creative work environment.

The layout of the center allows students to choose from a diverse pool of workspace with sections designated for community and others for solitude, according to Palmersheim. Students who are currently operating a business are eligible for a free office space in which they are encouraged to design and personalize for optimal work and school priorities.

The minor and certificate in entrepreneurship can be completed in nine credit hours. Any degree at UNI can be achieved by these two programs.

Two small business assistance programs are joining the JPEC team.

America’s Small Business Development Center is located at JPEC. The move will allow for better collaboration among the programs.

Small businesses outside of the University of Northern Iowa are being helped by the JPEC. Advisors focus on real-world small business needs, including startup assistance, business planning, accounting, human resources, marketing, sales, and information on local and statewide resources, and appointments are provided at no cost.

Over 73,000 Iowa entrepreneurs have been helped by IASourceLink, which connects them to a network of more than 300 nonprofit resource organizations that provide business-building services. These organizations are linked to one another and to established, emerging and start-up small businesses. A wide range of business-related services are offered by network resource partners.

A shift to remote work is not what JPEC sees.

The shift in Iowa’s workforce preferences have been observed by all JPEC programs. JPEC sees more challenges for employers than employees, even though these changes might give flexibility for Iowans to start ventures on their own.

According to the regional director of the SBDC, businesses are struggling to find and retain employees for in-person jobs. It is difficult for smaller businesses to manage pricing and payroll due to rising costs. During the holiday season, we have seen anecdotal evidence from our local Main Street districts that consumers were turning their focus to local businesses to avoid shipping and supply chain issues.

Most of the clients of the SBDC have brick and mortar businesses, so remote work isn’t an option. There has been an increase in individuals starting small home-based businesses that are driven by social media. Some people have flexibility due to a spouse that can work remotely, and this may affect a business decision or path for the trailing spouse. I have a client who has less than 1% of his employees working at an office. Some of their top performers in the office were not successful working remotely.

A more flexible environment within the JPEC allows students to operate at all hours.

Even if it is 9 p.m. on a Monday, we aim to accommodate the needs of students. Students enjoy the ability to go back into the traditional classroom, but are still willing to use the tools popularized through the Pandemic. Our center takes on a few students during winter and summer break.

The UNI JPEC is prepared to help small business owners and entrepreneurs in Northeast Iowa. Through entrepreneurial education, applied learning experiences and real world business guidance to students and community members, the UNI JPEC is helping to build a better Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa has a Business and Community Services called JPEC. You can learn more about JPEC, SBDC, and IA SourceLink by visiting or by contacting There is a website where people can request counseling for individual business support.

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