UNI recently presented a summary of its fiscal year 2019 economic development annual report to the Iowa Board of Regents. This was an opportunity to highlight the impact of economic development projects that were conducted in all of Iowa’s 99 counties for the 20th consecutive year.
UNI’s economic development outreach programs are housed in Business and Community Services (BCS), which supports the UNI strategic goal of community engagement and contributing to the economic vitality of the state. During the past year, more than 3,300 unique businesses, communities or non-profit organizations were served across the state. These client projects created economic activity in communities of all sizes.
In addition, BCS programs worked in collaboration with many state agencies on important development projects. One example is the Institute for Decision Making’s long-term project with Iowa Workforce Development to update the Laborshed model, which helps regions across Iowa estimate the potential available labor force and its characteristics.
UNI’s outreach programs create many opportunities for student engagement. During the past year, approximately 3,400 students participated in a BCS program. Some examples include helping small companies with businesses valuation and succession planning, conducting primary market research for Iowa companies, designing and building 3D sand molds for industrial supply chain companies, helping Iowa schools reduce food waste and expense, restoring prairies across Iowa, winterizing homes and helping local governments develop geographic information systems.
Another impressive milestone was accomplished this year by a BCS program. The UNI Metal Casting Center celebrated its 30th anniversary. This center continues to expand its services to meet the needs of the industrial supply chain. Approximately 80 small- and medium-sized businesses were served this year, and projects were conducted with all branches of the military. In addition, more than 30 students were employed by the Center.
Since 2000, BCS has engaged the entire university community in its outreach efforts, including faculty, staff, students and alumni—all of whom play a critical role in enhancing economic development across Iowa. Specific areas of service offered by UNI BCS include entrepreneurship, business assistance, community and economic development, market research, environmental research and sustainability, metal casting and additive manufacturing.