I am thrilled to be leading EntreFEST as part of the NewBoCo staff and excited to begin a new journey in my career. What better organizations to co-produce Iowa’s largest gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators than NewBoCo (an organization whose mission is to accelerate world-changing ideas from Iowa) and the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance (EA) (an organization that aims to make the Cedar Rapids metro one of the top regions for for economic growth in country)?! I could not think of a better home for one of the leading conferences in the Midwest, EntreFEST.

The last few months have been a whirlwind as I began the process to bring EntreFEST back to you May 4-5, 2017. We have so many exciting and new experiences planned. I can’t wait to share! You’ll begin to see sneak peaks in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned to our website and social media channels. (P.S. If you don’t like our Facebook page yet, please do!)

Even though I’ve been producing events for ten years in Iowa’s Creative Corridor, I continue to be impressed by the partnerships that develop between business and community members. One partnership that must be highlighted is with the EA, the organization co-producing EntreFEST 2017. Full disclosure, I worked for the EA for five years and am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to work with their exceptional staff. This partnership highlights the importance of EntreFEST to the economic development of our region. Fostering an active entrepreneurial community and ecosystem while continuing to push innovative ideas both within and outside existing organizations is essential to the economic success of our region.

Working for agencies like the EA and NewBoCo have given me the opportunity to get to know kids running their first lemonade stands, small business owners opening their first storefronts, vendors moving into NewBo City Market, and tech startups scaling their companies from one employee to dozens. What you – EntreFEST attendees, speakers, and sponsors – are involved in is vital to our region, and we’re seeing more and more people recognizing that fact.

We have cool stuff happening right here in the Creative Corridor and throughout Iowa. EntreFEST provides a chance for us to learn and connect with each other through the experiences, triumphs, failures, and light bulb moments of others. It is also an opportunity to invite members of the regional and national ecosystems to join us in this celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation while helping us expand our networks and further build the community.

What we are unveiling in the upcoming weeks would not be possible without the tremendous work of the previous leaders of EntreFEST: The University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, and Iowa State University. They saw the need for such an event, and their support paired with the incredible energy and passion from the Seed Here staff, led by Amanda West and Andy Stoll, have made EntreFEST an event everyone is excited to see return this year. I am grateful for Andy and Amanda’s continued mentorship and support as we plan for May.

In addition to the support of the past EntreFEST leaders, a crazy smart and creative group of volunteers are helping to organize this event so that you learn from the best, hear amazing stories, and meet the people who will contribute to advance both your professional and personal life. To top that off, you will have more fun than you can imagine and will create long lasting memories. If you see any of the people mentioned previously or in the list below in May, please stop and say “Thank You” because they are plain awesome, which you’ll see for yourselves.

EntreFEST Curation Team Members

Lynn Allendorf, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Jessica Andersen, Jr. Achievement of Eastern Iowa
Kathy Anderson, Iowa Association of Business & Industry
Allison Antes, Economic Alliance
Jennifer Banta, the University of Iowa JPEC and Venture School
Sarah Binder, The Gazette Company
Theresa Bornbach, Business & Talent Made Better
Emily Carlson, WRITTEN Apparel
Brian Crowe, Economic Alliance
Brooke Fitzgerald, The Early Bird
Scott Gasway, J.P. Gasway Company
Eric Hanson, Raining Rose
Shannon Hanson, United Way of East Central Iowa
Lovar Davis Kidd, MOvMNT Dance Company
Carol Loshbaugh, Conceptual Learning & Leadership
Nick Ludwig, Shuttleworth & Ingersoll
Lon Olejniczak, Transamerica
Allison Poss, Girls With Ideas
Steve Shriver, Ecolips
Circe Stumbo, West Wind
Scott Swenson, Kirkwood SBDC
Andre’ Wright, Iowa City Area Development Group

Since you’ve gotten to know me, I look forward to meeting you in May too! We are going to have the best two days. Now, go buy a ticket!

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