UNK's Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development


Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community

Students conversing at a table

The Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community (ELLC) is a program for UNK freshman and sophomores that connects like-minded students who are innovative and creative. This will be a collective of creative students who are given special attention and support for the potential of business startup. Students will live together in UNK Housing for their freshman year and be exposed to a wide-range of entrepreneurship programming. There are eight scholarships available to students. If you have any questions, you can contact Aliese Hoffman at hoffmananal2@unk.edu.

You can view the full flyer for the ELLC Day here.


College students in the grass

Entrepreneurship Awards Logo

Entrepreneurship Awards

Do you know someone that is an outstanding up-and-coming entrepreneur, or maybe someone that is an incredible entrepreneurship advocate? Nominate them for an Entrepreneurship Award!  Awards are given in the following categories:

Student Entrepreneur - a student at UNK involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship, launching, or working on the launch of a business.

Emerging Entrepreneur - a local startup entrepreneur in the first two years of business development.

Excellence in Entrepreneurship - a seasoned entrepreneur that is paving the way for small business growth in the Kearney area and has been in business for at least three years.

Entrepreneurship Advocate - a local professional service or resource provider that assists entrepreneurs in the area.

UNK Entrepreneur Alumni - a UNK graduate that has found success in his/her field through business development and/or ownership

These Entrepreneurship Awards will be given out at the Light It Up Event on April 5th.

We are now accepting nominations for who you think deserves an award in entrepreneurship!  Anyone can nominate as many people as you would like. The deadline to nominate an area entrepreneur is March 19th. To nominate someone, fill out the survey here.

8th Annual Central Nebraska Business Idea Contest

2017 Big Idea Kearney Contest Winners

The High School Division Winners of Big Idea Kearney The College Division Winners of Big Idea Kearney The Community Division Winners of Big Idea Kearney

Read the UNK News Article on Big Idea Kearney here.

Program Impact

View 5 Year Report

  • Over 13,500 external stakeholders participated in the Center's Entrepreneurship, Economic Development, or Advanced Market Research programsGraphic of town
  • The Center's survey services/data analysis led to successful grant awards for 11 NE communities; over $3.5 million in grant projects were leveraged by over $800k in local project matching funds
  • $25,000 average increase in revenue (or savings) from businesses (115) assisted
  • Over 3,000 students participated in the Center's programming
  • Over 200 Nebraska residents are impacted annually by the Enactus social entrepreneurship student group, which also manages the first ever on-campus student business, Brewed Awakening (coffee shop)

RFI Logo

The Rural Futures Institute Competitive Awards Program connects partners, campuses and communities.  Awards are designed to provide seed funding in the areas of 1) Teaching and Engagement and 2) Research and Engagement.  Funded projects foster the discovery of new opportunities and the development of innovative solutions to challenges facing rural people and places.

2016 RFI Competitive Awards Proposals Accepted to receive funding include:

1. Research & Engagement
Identifying the Interrelationships Between Social Determinants, Self-identity, and Public Health in Minority Rural Communities: Photovoice + Random Spatial Sampling Survey
Enhancing Nebraska's Ecotourism Industry
Rural Prosperity Research Project
Raising Awareness of Health Professionals Education Among Rural Nebraska Latino Youth

2. Teaching & Engagement
Facilitating the Implementation of Social Media Plans for Small Businesses & Local Non-Profits through Service Learning at UNK
UNK Article
Art at Cedar Point
Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI): Youth Are Rural Health Program (YouRhealth)
Understanding Hispanics and Sense of Community in Rural Nebraska
CEEM Project: A New Community Engagement Education Model

3.  Special Projects
Collaborative Capacity Building in Rural Nebraska Schools via Technology
For more information on the accepted proposals, visit the 2016 RFI Competitive Awards page.

Could your business use an analysis of how a future product will perform in the market?  Do you need help understanding or reaching your customers?  Is your community ready to grow and learn the needs and wants of its residents? 

 Call 308-865-8199 for more information and a FREE initial consultation, including a customized, professional research design plan!

Rapid Prototyping

Prototype PictureDid you know? Rapid Prototyping can be done at UNK!
UNK is here to help with your prototyping needs! Businesses of all sizes and shapes (no pun intended) can use this great technology to build a model, or even a fully-functional part, for concept development, sales or testing of fit and function.

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