FAYETTE, Iowa (September 25, 2007) -- Upper Iowa University (UIU) is announcing a $500,000 endowment from Bob and Betty Firth to create the Upper Iowa Business Development (UIBD) grant program. This competitive grant will make $40,000 available annually to a new business locating in Fayette or to assist in the expansion of an existing business. The Firths are both members of UIU’s Board of Trustees and long-time benefactors of the university.
A program advisory committee comprising local economic development agencies, business leaders, elected officials, and UIU personnel has been assembled to review and provide input to the grant criteria, application process, and administration of the program.
The 13-member committee includes Robin Bostrom, director of Fayette County economic development; Don Aungst, UIU chief financial officer and vice president of business; Christie Dennis, Fayette city administrator; Bill Dohrmann, mayor of Fayette; Sally Falb, executive director of Oelwein Chamber and Area Development; Betty and Bob Firth; Fedelina Madrid, UIU vice president for marketing and communications; Doug McReynolds, Fayette city council member and mayor pro tem; Bernhard Pattison, Fayette business owner and UIU board member; Roger Thomas, state representative; Dr. Alan Walker, UIU president; and Andrew Wenthe, state representative and UIU director of external affairs/e-Center.
Meanwhile, UIU is attempting to secure an additional $500,000 to bring the total endowment for the UIBD grant program to one million dollars. “Upper Iowa fully recognizes the symbiotic relationship that exists between the University and the community of Fayette,” said Walker. “It is important to our goal of growing the University that we undertake this bold initiative to provide the best possible quality-of-life and employment opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff by playing a lead role in economic development. In fact, we view it as an absolute necessity.”
The UIBD grant is the first initiative of the University’s newly established e-Center, the mission of which is to provide research, development, support, and application of e-commerce, cyber security, and e-learning in northeast Iowa. Future initiatives of the e-Center will include identification of northeast Iowa’s unique core assets and development of a highly optimized website to market these assets. Wenthe has been named director of the e-Center. “Those of us at Upper Iowa understand the importance of a strong regional economy, both in terms of continuing the University’s success and for the overall benefit of northeast Iowa,” said Wenthe. “UIU’s facilities, resources and expertise are attractive to new and growing businesses, and we look forward to welcoming new jobs and growth to our community.”
UIU’s Fayette campus offers several degrees in business, including marketing and business administration, and this year began offering a major in information technology, the newest and most rapidly growing discipline in the field of computer science. Students, graduates and faculty will contribute their skills and expertise to the e-Center in an effort to assist area entrepreneurs and strengthen the local economy.
The University also plans to work with local, regional and state economic development agencies to identify additional sources of funding that can be matched to the $40,000 provided by the University in an effort to make an even greater impact for the selected businesses.
“UIU has long been an economic engine for Fayette County, so I am not surprised that they are again stepping up to help move our economy forward,” said Bostrom. “The university funded grant program and e-Center will be terrific resources for me and others working to create more economic opportunity in Fayette County.”