Foundation grant supports innovation, entrepreneurship


Last fall, a new idea came to life in Dyersville: The Dyersville Innovation Lab, supported in part by funding from the Dyersville Area Community Foundation, acts as a community hub offering vibrant coworking space and robust program support for entrepreneurs, as well as proven innovation services for existing businesses and public institutions. 

Since opening, it has attracted leaders looking to support and grow small businesses:

  • More than 20 startups took part in a full-day workshop called, “The Journey To Your Vision,” hosted by The Innovation Lab in partnership with the Small Business Development Center and the Rural Empowerment Initiative.
  • Empower Her Co., a network of female entrepreneurs, meets regularly at The Innovation Lab, logging more than a dozen gatherings since it opened.
  • The Innovation Lab has hosted visitors from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and legislators, including a visit from State Rep. Shannon Lundgren in early August.

“None of this is possible without the support of partners like the Dyersville Area Community Foundation,” says Eric Dregne, Innovation Lab director. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Foundation in the year ahead.”

Innovation Labs were born from Dubuque’s Creative Adventure Lab as a way for entrepreneurs, businesses and public institutions to tap into new ideas and, more importantly, implement those ideas to create tangible value for their communities.

There are five Innovation Labs in Eastern Iowa, located in Cascade, Dubuque, Dyersville, Independence and Monticello. “These Innovation Labs bring energy to Main Streets and new tools to strengthen entrepreneurship and economic impact throughout the entire region,” says Dregne. “They provide a place for remote workers to land when they look to relocate to a rural community, or for entrepreneurs and small businesses to thrive.”

Since launching last fall, the Dyersville Innovation Lab has worked with six companies that joined the coworking space, hosted programs and organizations for the advancement of entrepreneurship in the area and accommodated frequent day-pass users, typically visitors or people working in the region for a few days.

“I love working at The Innovation Lab in Dyersville! The space is clean, bright, and inviting – the perfect place to get work done,” says Cindy Oberbroeckling, a coworker in the space and a team member at Dyersville Economic Development.

“The Dyersville Innovation Lab was perfect, a cool space where I could count on a fast Wi-Fi connection to get my work done while I was in the area,” says Jeff Patch, a freelance writer. 

The grant from the Community Foundation will also be used to support a half-day community innovation session for a local nonprofit . Community innovation sessions invite the broader community to join in creating solutions to unique challenges for a local organization. The Innovation Lab will facilitate its proprietary Innovation Process around the nonprofit’s challenge. At the end of the session, the nonprofit will be able to take away multiple new solutions to the challenge it presented. Nonprofits who would like to be considered for the session should contact Michelle Grover, the Foundation’s executive director, at

“We have seen an increase in business growth among new and existing businesses,” says Karla Thompson, Foundation board member and executive director of the Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The lab serves as a resource for entrepreneurs to get started on new business dreams, access dedicated space to meet clients, or leverage facilitators to help with strategic planning.”

To learn more about The Innovation Lab, contact Eric Dregne at or visit

The Foundation offers many opportunities to improve quality of life by addressing an array of local issues. To learn more about how you can establish a fund or make a gift that impacts your community, contact Michelle Grover at 319-269-6432 or email