The Northeast Iowa Business Network has partnered with the University of Northern Iowa to offer an online contest worth $15,000 to regional entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Contestants can win cash and gain widespread statewide publicity by competing in one of multiple online contests, followed by a statewide pitch-off event during the annual EntreFest! conference next spring.

In its second year, the contest, called Dream Big Grow Here, offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to upload their business start-up and/or expansion idea online at then encourage customers, friends, family and community members to vote for them.

The winner of each regional contest receives a $5,000 cash award and a chance to compete for $10,000 in a live, pitch-off during the statewide EntreFest! conference.

Ten regional contests are planned for 2012, including the Dream Big Grow Here in Northeast Iowa contest which kicked off Sept. 3.

To participate

To participate, entrepreneurs are encouraged to visit the website to determine their eligibility, and then upload a video, PowerPoint or photographs outlining their plans during the contestant entry phase which runs through Friday, Sept. 28.

They then will encourage others to vote for them between Oct. 1 to Oct. 19. A pitch-off will be announced at a later date.

Lead sponsor for Dream Big Grow Here 2012 is the Iowa Bankers Association.

John Sorensen, president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association said, "Entrepreneurs and small business owners are the heart and soul of Iowa's economy. They provide jobs for thousands of Iowans and economic growth for our local communities. The Dream Big Grow Here grants are a terrific way for Iowa banks to help recognize the hard work and commitment of Iowa's entrepreneurs."


Dream Big Grow Here is sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Business Network, the University of Northern Iowa MyEntreNet, the Iowa Bankers Association, Renew Rural Iowa, ISU Community Vitality Center, Iowa Economic Development Authority, VentureNet, Delta Dental of Iowa and the Technology Association of Iowa.

For more information on the Dream Big Grow Here competition and for complete rules, go to www.DreamBig or contact Winneshiek County Development Director Randy Uhl at 563-382-6061 or or Courtney Schwitzer at or 319-273-4328.