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UNI Center for Business Growth and Innovation Receives Kauffman Grant to Assist Rural Iowa Business Owners

July 29, 2020 - 1:55pm
UNIBusiness Editor
Winterset Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation (CBGI) has been selected for grant funding through the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s 2020 Heartland Challenge.  The grant is intended to support the planning and implementation of business transition programming to address the challenges faced by small businesses in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

CBGI plans to use the grant to launch the Iowa Business Transition Center, which will be an expanded element of CBGI’s proven succession planning work for small businesses where since 2016, over 90 Iowa companies have successfully transitioned ownership of their business.

CBGI’s Iowa Business Transition Center will work with current business owners, their next generation of family, key employees, and third party buyers in developing detailed succession road maps for their firms across rural Iowa.  CBGI aims to help current ownership determine which option works best for their company including a business cooperative, an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), selling to key employees, transitioning to their relative, or finding a strategic buyer.

“Rural decline is one of the greatest issues facing Iowa’s economy, affecting more than ⅓ of the state’s population.  The Iowa Business Transition Center will provide a viable plan for rural businesses to remain the lifeblood of their local economies.  By creating an inclusive educational and consultative program, we will be able to address all business succession issues that arise in rural Iowa.  Our center will provide education and support services for many different options for succession including business cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, selling to a new buyer, and transitioning the business to the next member of the family.  This approach will create wins in rural communities and provide opportunities for companies to continue to operate and serve the rural areas of Iowa,” stated Paul Kinghorn, Director of the Center for Business Growth and Innovation.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to increase opportunities that allow all people to learn, to take risks, and to own their success. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri, and uses its $2 billion in assets to collaboratively help people be self-sufficient, productive citizens. For more information, visit and connect with us at and

The award from the Kauffman Foundation was made to the University of Northern Iowa through the UNI Foundation. For more information about the UNI Foundation, visit


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