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Bedell Gift Names UI Student Entrepreneurship Program

Tom Bedell Tom Bedell, chairman of the fishing tackle equipment company Pure Fishing of Spirit Lake, Iowa, has made a $660,000 gift commitment to the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa, JPEC officials announced today. The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory program, located in a former fraternity house at 322 North Clinton Street in Iowa City, will be named in recognition of his support.

"This very generous gift from one of our state's most innovative, successful, and visionary entrepreneurs is a tremendous boost for us, both in terms of the financial resources it will provide and Tom's growing involvement in our program," said David Hensley, JPEC director. "Tom is very committed to working closely with our students. His real-world entrepreneurial experience will be invaluable to young women and men who are planning to launch their own successful business ventures."

The Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) is dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs participating in the university's campus-wide entrepreneurship program. The Bedell gift will enable JPEC to broaden its interdisciplinary and applied learning programs as well as support students interested in launching new business ventures. BELL has 17 fully equipped offices with furniture, computers and high-speed Internet access, a conference room and two larger meeting spaces. Student teams selected to be housed in the laboratory will receive mentoring and a variety of other assistance from JPEC faculty, the Small Business Development Center and area entrepreneurs and business experts. BELL will also host networking, educational and social events open to university faculty, staff and students as well as the community at large.

"One of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences in my life has been helping Pure Fishing grow from an Iowa-centered company to a truly global success story," Bedell said. "These days, what I'm finding most enjoyable is sharing what I've learned about entrepreneurship with young people who are eager to grow the next generation of dynamic, global companies right here in Iowa. I'm really looking forward to helping students in this new facility to successfully develop, expand and execute their dreams."

A native of Spirit Lake, Bedell earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1973 and attended the UI College of Law. He left law school to head a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where his father, former U.S. Representative Berkley Bedell, was serving in Congress. In 1979, Tom took over as president of what was then Berkley & Company, the fishing-tackle company that his father founded as Berkley Fly Company in 1937. The company was renamed Pure Fishing in 1998 and today is the world's leading fishing tackle company, with manufacturing and marketing facilities in 22 countries and more than 1,100 coworkers worldwide.

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa is a partnership among the UI's Henry B. Tippie College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and programs within the UI health sciences units, including the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Founded in 1996 through a generous gift from John and Mary Pappajohn of Des Moines, JPEC's comprehensive entrepreneurial education program is available to all Iowans.

Through JPEC, UI undergraduate students in any major or department may earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in addition to their undergraduate degree. The undergraduate entrepreneurship program recently received the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 2004 National Model Program Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education. Advanced courses are offered to graduate students on the UI campus and at several locations across the state of Iowa. JPEC has partnered with the Iowa Community College System to deliver entrepreneurial training to all Iowans interested in pursuing business ownership. The center also offers specialized curriculum, training and summer camps for Iowa youth and high school teachers.

Those interested in supporting JPEC's experiential learning efforts or other aspects of the entrepreneurial program may contact the center at 319-335-1022 or visit the web site at www.iowajpec.org.

The Bedell gift is part of the UI's $1 billion comprehensive campaign, which will run through 2005 and is being conducted under the guidance of the UI Foundation. Named "Good. Better. Best. Iowa: The Campaign to Advance Our Great University," the seven-year effort is raising private funds to help launch a variety of initiatives across the university, substantially increase the number of UI scholarships and endowed faculty positions, support new educational and research facilities, build the UI's endowment and fund outreach and service programs to benefit Iowans.

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the "Good. Better. Best. Iowa" campaign, visit its web site at www.GoodBetterBestIowa.org.


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