About Us


The mission of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development is to promote strong and sustained business growth by fostering creative entrepreneurial initiatives in rural Nebraska and to establish a competitive economic edge through applied academic research and community outreach. We offer a wide expanse of business services. Contact our center for more information.


Through outreach, education and research, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development will successfully impact small business development and growth in rural Nebraska in regard to talent retention, effective business planning and economically inviting opportunities. The Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development strives to be an organization considered a viable resource for the area with positive connections between the community and academy.

What We Do

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Develop­ment offers a variety of events including Big Idea Kear­ney, a business idea contest for UNK students, and the community. They offer a three-day startup weekend event for students and the community. As part of the College of Business and Technology, the CERD carries out their mission by collaborating with the manage­ment department to support the classes offered in the entrepreneurship minor. The team also works with faculty in CBT to execute various research projects and to support the annual Tri-City Area Economic Forum each fall. In 2018, the CERD piloted the first Entrepre­neurial Living-Learning Community. The team offers youth entrepreneurship program camps in the sum­mer and supports the Enactus team in offering a high school program in the fall; New Venture Adventure. In the fall of 2017, the CERD initiated the first ever Central Nebraska Startup Week and either hosted, partnered, sponsored or promoted over 20 different entrepreneur­ial events throughout the central Nebraska.


Sara Bennett


(308) 865-8199

Advisory Council

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development has an advisory council made up of business partners, economic developers and community stakeholders. This collective of advisors meets with the CERD team on a regular basis to stay up to date on events, programs and initiatives from the center as well as to share community trends, demands and opportunities.

Network Organizations


Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce 

Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers

Nebraska Economic Development Association 

Nebraska Development Network-Central Region

Nebraska Enterprise Fund

Nebraska Business Development Center

Contact Information

Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development
West Center - #E127
UNK Campus, 1917 West 24th St.
Kearney, NE 68849
(308) 865-8199