Economic Impact

Committed to serving our students and our community

Business and Community Services (BCS) is the economic outreach arm of UNI, dedicated to using university resources and expertise to create a positive and lasting impact across the state of Iowa. Dealing with everything from the restoration of our natural vegetation to growing small businesses, BCS proves you do not have to be part of a big university to have a big impact. Wilson College of Business and BCS have helped over 400,000 Iowans in all 99 Iowa counties and continues to grow its programs to help even more! Explore the ways we are working to build a better Iowa.


Business and Community Services

A new idea that would positively impact thousands throughout Iowa.

In 1985, it was recognized that businesses across the state were in need of professional assistance in starting, maintaining and growing their businesses. With this in mind, the University of Northern Iowa began a new collaboration to develop programs with the purpose of providing outreach to businesses and communities across Iowa.

Over the next two decades, UNI leadership devoted considerable time to better understand local-level economic development needs across the state. The outcome resulted in the creation of 12 programs that would address specific needs, such as community and economic development, entrepreneurship and the environment.

The programs were brought together in the year 2000 under the umbrella of Business and Community Services (BCS). BCS works with businesses, entrepreneurs, communities and governments, providing a wide array of services from marketing research and business incubation to environmental compliance assistance and economic development. The BCS brand continues to grow to cater to the needs of Iowa businesses providing unsurpassed expertise and knowledge.

Community Engagement

Enhancing the quality of life for our students and our community

Communities are strengthened through the leadership, planning and services provided by city agencies and local businesses. Wilson College of Business and BCS help connect cities, businesses, citizens and Wilson Business students through community-based outreach and service programs.

Institute for Decision Making

Our commitment to Iowa’s community is evident through the University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services’ economic development arm. The Institute for Decision Making supplies Iowans with the knowledge, tools and guidance to take organized community and economic development actions to improve their communities, regions and the state.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an IRS initiative designed to support free tax preparation service for the underserved through various partner organizations, like Wilson College of Business. Senior and graduate-level accounting students offer free tax support to the community from February through April 15.

David W. Wilson Ethics Education

What role should business play in current societies? What duties should communities impose on business? What rights and privileges should business be granted? David W. Wilson Ethics events are held throughout the Cedar Valley and are designed to ask those large-scale ethical questions to present a balanced view on the issues facing businesses and social institutions.


Entrepreneurial Resources

Starting a new business takes planning and a good sense of direction, but you don't have to travel that difficult path alone.

Many entrepreneurial programs are available through the Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI) in UNI's Business and Community Services division. As an entrepreneur, you can receive direction and resources to help realize your business goals.

Almost all of our programs have been either nominated and/or won regional, national and international awards, including accolades from organizations like: the Mid-America Economic Development Association, the University Economic Development Association and the International Economic Development Council. Frequently, UNI BCS initiatives are heralded as best practice examples for economic development practitioners nationally on how universities can leverage their unique assets to create meaningful impact on regional economies.

Resources for Entrepreneurs

The Business and Community Services’  team philosophy is to listen to the entrepreneurial community, imagine what we can do to fill gaps in their needs; then create sharable and collaboratively driven solutions leveraging our technology and university assets. Annually, we evaluate how we’ve done and strive to scale those resources that are effective to maximize economic impact for Iowa entrepreneurs.

Small Business Development Center

UNI’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free, confidential, customized business advice in the Cedar Valley and Northeast Iowa.

8120 Spark Zone

The Innovation Incubator's state-of-the-art facility provides technological resources, classroom and office space, and priority access to business experts and UNI professors across a diverse selection of industries.

UNI John Pappajohn 
Entrepreneurial Center

The UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center provides a range of innovative educational programs and support services designed for student entrepreneurs.


Small Business Assistance

It's often lonely at the top for business owners. We're here to be a third-party sounding board and trusted advisor.

For the past two decades, the University of Northern Iowa Center for Business Growth and Innovation has built a network of resources and services designed to attract, connect and accelerate small business and start-up growth with business assistance, capital, partner resources and valuable connections to their peers.

The success of UNI CBGI initiatives can be attributed to our team’s philosophy to listen to small business owners, imagine what we can do to make life better, and to create solutions leveraging our university and technology assets. Annually, we evaluate how we’ve done in terms of economic impact, user experiences and potential to scale. We have learned how to better understand business owners through online interactions, an email listserv, statewide annual survey, regional workshops and outreach events, and webinars.


Advance Iowa

Advance Iowa is the State of Iowa’s comprehensive consulting program designed to work with mid-sized companies to enhance their growth.

‌Advance Iowa Info.

Business Concierge

Iowa Business Concierge program seeks to connect entrepreneurs with the right public sector organization that can help them grow, the first time, every time. 

‌Business Concierge Info.

Strategic Marketing Services

Strategic Marketing Services is a full-service marketing research organization that delivers customized, targeted, actionable marketplace intelligence to clients of varying sizes, industries and geographic locations.

‌Strategic Marketing Service Info.