Resource Partner Spotlight: Center for Business Growth and Innovation

Resource Partner Spotlight: Center for Business Growth and Innovation

By Lea Hensel, UNI Business and Community Services

In keeping with the EntreFEST theme for this month, the Resource Partner Spotlight is centered on the Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI) at the University of Northern Iowa, an organization that has two presentations taking place at the entrepreneurial conference taking place next month.

CBGI has a network of resources and services that provide business assistance and development throughout a wide variety of industries. Staff work with businesses of all sizes and all complexities, from start-up assistance to succession planning. I talked with staff about their upcoming presentations to provide a brief overview of what you can expect.

Think Like a Futurist

Paul Kinghorn, CBGI Director & Dan Beenken, Advance Iowa Director

Friday, May 5

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Think Like a Futurist is very much a workshop rather than a presentation that will get attendees to think strategically about their businesses along with looking in depth at a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis.

In the style of World Cafe (a structured and facilitated group discussion), attendees will be placed into small groups, each with a topic that affects business such as the economy, technology, demographics, etc. With the topic in mind, each group will collaborate to look at focuses such as upcoming challenges businesses could face or what opportunities could be taken advantage of for businesses.

Ideas from each group are then brought together collectively as Paul and Dan facilitate the discussion. Those attending then have the opportunity to learn about the challenges and opportunities for each of the topics from differing viewpoints. Walking away, you’ll be able to understand how those topics affect your business and likely gather some insight from those outside your industry as well. And we all know how getting that fresh perspective and a second set of eyes can lead to a new way of looking at things!

Connecting Right People & Right Resources

Patrick Luensmann, CBGI Senior Program Manager & Amy Kuhlers, Iowa Economic Development Authority Program Manager

Friday, May 5

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Patrick and Amy are going to be presenting on something you’ll likely pretty familiar with – IASourceLink. And in particular, how it helps to build connections between people and the resources they need.

With a mission to help small businesses in Iowa grow and succeed, IASourceLink has become an essential portal for entrepreneurs and businesses owners alike to take the next steps in their business growth whether they’re looking for funding and regulatory information or participating in monthly webinars led by industry experts that focus on timely topics.

Additionally, one of the assets Patrick and Amy will be focusing on is the Resource Navigator. Over 350 public organizations in Iowa are built into this navigator so that when you need assistance, you know who to contact. Dialing down through information like your industry, specific needs and what stage you’re at in your business, the navigator files through those 350 organizations to find the ones that meet your needs. It’s how IASourceLink works to connect the right people to the right resources.

With over 50 presentations scheduled at EntreFEST, I don’t think anyone will have problems filling up their schedules for the two-day event. I know the CBGI staff is looking forward to it and hopefully, we will see you there. Check out the full schedule at

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