Randy Pilkington

Executive Director - Business & Community Services

Director JPEC


M.A. and B.A., University of Northern Iowa (Geography – economic and urban emphasis)

Research Interests

Pilkington's areas of expertise include strategic planning, student entrepreneurship, angel and seed funding, economic impact, and regional development.


Randy Pilkington serves as Executive Director of Business and Community Services (BCS). BCS is the economic and community development division of UNIBusiness and consists of eight outreach programs that provide an integrated approach to meeting the needs of businesses, entrepreneurs, and communities throughout Iowa and beyond. BCS serves external constituents through specialized professional development, market research and analysis, entrepreneurship, guidance for environmentally sound practices, small business counseling, and community and economic development guidance.

In addition, Pilkington serves as the Director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. He has helped establish a community-based equity fund for Northeast Iowa, assisted with student entrepreneurship programming, and facilitated public and private funding for a student-based business incubator.

Professional Accomplishments

Pilkington has worked in all 99 Iowa counties and guided economic development plans and projects in more than 300 Iowa communities. He served as president of Professional Developers of Iowa, served on the Iowa Department of Economic Development Board of Directors, the twenty-first Century Workforce Council, and the Governors Council of Economic Advisors. He currently serves on the Iowa Business Council Deputy Committee, Iowa Innovation Council, Iowa Innovation Corporation, Cedar Valley TechWorks, the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Workgroup, and is co-chair of the UNI Research Foundation. He currently serves as director of Federal Relations, guiding UNI's federal relations activities. This role also includes lobbying on behalf of UNI and maintaining relationships with all six Iowa Congressional offices. He was awarded the Regent's Award for Staff Excellence in 2003.

Latest News & Views

ABP 2021
UNI Business class helps budget forecast for Iowa Arboretum

Ronnie Chen, assistant professor of finance, loves to bring practical experience into the classroom. When he saw an opportunity to the help the Iowa Arboretum, the Boone County nonprofit arboretum where he has volunteered for a couple of years, with its three-year budget, he seized it.

3 weeks 1 day ago
UNI Minority Entrepreneur Incubator Students
UNI Business partners with Waterloo to launch minority-owned business accelerator

The pandemic has damaged businesses across the country. Federal aid in the form of Paycheck Protection Program—which began April 3 and ended Aug. 8 and handed out 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion—provided an essential crutch. But some businesses, particularly Black-owned and minority-owned businesses, were largely locked out, according to a recent report from the Association Press and CBS.

3 months 1 week ago
Travis Steffen
Serial entrepreneur got his start at UNI’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

Travis Steffen remembers the first time he contemplated building a business. An undergraduate student, he was sitting in his dorm room at Dancer Hall, chatting with his two roommates. They wanted to make bed lofts and sell them to incoming students. They calculated a $10,000 profit, life-changing money in college. Although they later found out UNI already contracted with a bed loft company and dropped the idea, Steffen couldn’t shake the potential.

5 months 4 days ago
UNI business students at career fair
The complete guide to choosing a college major

College is an exciting time in your life, but don’t spend all four years merely enjoying it – you should take advantage of this time to determine exactly what you want to do with your life. This article will help you decide how to choose your college major that fits your long-term goals.

6 months 4 weeks ago
Charlie the dog. I can't adult.
Five iOS Apps for people learning to 'adult'

The anxiety young people have about maturing in their twenties has lead to the word "adulting" becoming quite popular. It's a useful, albeit somewhat glib, catch-all term for taking care of yourself. Doing your laundry? Adulting. Scrambling an egg? Adulting. In truth, the real sign of adulthood is living a life that's within your control, and for that, there are several iOS apps to help. With these five apps, anyone can "adult" -- or at least fake it when they need to. 


8 months 1 week ago
Gmail icon on mobile phone
5 highly effective Gmail tools you should be using but probably aren't

Do you use Gmail for your business or personal email correspondence? Do you want to improve your email experience, rather than rely on Google's standard email interface? Thanks to developers within the email productivity space, there are a growing number of productivity apps available for Gmail users. Following are five powerful Gmail productivity tools to consider adding to your email routine:

8 months 2 weeks ago