Small business owners and entrepreneurs from across Iowa are gathering in Cedar Falls today for the first-ever " EntreFest !" conference. Mike Wagner, president of the Des Moines-based branding firm White Rabbit Group, is the keynote speaker. Wagner says small businesses comprise about 97-percent of the businesses in Iowa so they must continue to be nurtured.
Wagner says: "They bring so many jobs, for one thing. It’s an underlooked source of revenue for our communities. They build opportunity for more economic impact for our smaller communities especially. When we neglect them, I think we neglect some of the engine of what drives Iowa." He says the two-day conference will provide business owners and emerging entrepreneurs the chance to learn, share and celebrate the spirit associated with being an Iowa innovator.
"We create more energy, more thinking, better ideas emerge, networking opportunities arise. This is going to be the very first time we’ve when we’ve had an annual conference devoted specifically to small business and entrepreneurial thinking, so education, networking and celebration is going to be on the menu," Wagner says. He says the goal is for all attendees to be able to leave with the tools they need to help their businesses grow.
Wagner says: "My presentation is going to be on how to make your business memorable to the marketplace. A lot of noise out there, very little signal. How to build a strong brand is essential for people who want to be heard in a noisy marketplace." Among the other speakers, Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, will talk about his involvement with the House Committee on Small Business and implications for Iowa.
The event is being hosted by the University of Northern Iowa’s Regional Business Center-Small Business Development Center. "EntreFest!" runs today (Thursday) and Friday in Cedar Falls.