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Entrepreneurial UNI students get big boost from local foundation

April 18, 2012

Stacy Van Gorp, executive director, R.J. McElroy Trust, 319-287-9102,

Randy Pilkington, executive director, UNI Business and Community Services, 319-273-5732

Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director, UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, 319-273-5732,

Rebecca Schultze, communications and public relations manager, UNI College of Business Administration, 319-273-3309,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center has received a $300,000 grant from the R.J. McElroy Trust and will name its Student Business Incubator the "R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator" during a ceremony on Sept. 13.

"R.J. McElroy was one of the Cedar Valley's most noteworthy entrepreneurs, and the trust has long funded many educational activities for area youth," said Randy Pilkington, executive director of UNI Business & Community Services and director of JPEC. "The R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator is a great combination of entrepreneurship and education."

The UNI Student Business Incubator (SBI), a program of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, is a learning laboratory designed to inspire and educate students interested in entrepreneurship. Located in the Business and Community Services Building, the incubator offers one-on-one technical assistance, professional services and training, office space and standard equipment, and mentoring programs to UNI students who meet the SBI requirements. With its 10 fully occupied office suites and numerous programs and events throughout the year, SBI has served hundreds of college entrepreneurs since it began in 2005.

The funds from the R.J. McElroy Trust will allow JPEC staff to deliver specialized workshops and classes, one-on-one consulting and provide operational support to students in the incubator.

"We are pleased to have the support of the R.J. McElroy Trust," said Katherine Cota-Uyar, associate director of the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. "We hope R.J. McElroy would be proud of the young entrepreneurs in our programs and the exciting businesses they start. We think he'd be especially proud of the businesses that started in the incubator and are now adding to the Iowa economy."

The UNI JPEC, a division of UNI’s Business and Community Services, provides a range of innovative educational programs and support services for student entrepreneurs. The center provides expertise in all stages of business planning and development and serves as a vehicle to bring new products and technologies to market. For more information about JPEC at UNI, visit, call 319-273-JPEC or email