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Governor Vilsack Announces the First Entrepreneurial Institute

DES MOINES – Governor Tom Vilsack today announced the first Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute will take place July 30 to August 4th at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory on West Lake Okoboji. Twenty-four entrepreneurial students from the state universities will participate in advanced study of entrepreneurship that will include an entrepreneurial simulation, seminars with successful entrepreneurs and business and community leaders, and networking and mentoring to enhance their understanding of entrepreneurship opportunities in Iowa. The college credit institute--a joint effort of the State Board of Regents, the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED), the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation -- was detailed at a news conference in Des Moines.

“We see the Okoboji Institute as a test of economic gardening strategies for entrepreneurial development throughout the state,” said Governor Tom Vilsack. “Plant the seeds, cultivate gardens of opportunity and raise a new crop of businesses. The strategy is to develop nurturing places for entrepreneurs within regional business communities, introduce students to the quality of life throughout Iowa and help them succeed with new business ideas as they emerge from the state’s entrepreneurial training centers.”

State Board of Regents member Tom Bedell from Spirit Lake said, “The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is another example of how engaged Regent universities are in strengthening the state’s economic future through outreach, distance learning, research and technology transfer. The Lakeside Lab, which is operated as a biological field station by the three universities, will provide a really creative atmosphere to develop business ideas.”

Budding entrepreneurs—eight each from the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa—will work in teams on a computer-based simulation in the morning that incorporates the creation and operation of a new business and a fundraising round where the teams have to present their plans to community volunteer venture capitalists to acquire capital to fuel growth for their simulated companies.

Residents of Great Lakes area are opening their homes to host the 24 students during the event, providing the students with a full quality of life experience in the region.

The Institute is part of an Entrepreneurial Initiative of the four counties that make up the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation—Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, and Buena Vista—that includes life-long learning, starting a seed capital fund, finding successful business people to mentor entrepreneurs and economic gardening.

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