Gratitude – 2020

Dear NIIC Friends,

We have all experienced a challenging year. As the holidays approach, I pause to express gratitude for the remarkable things we’ve seen at The NIIC during 2020. Ideas@Work Keynote Speaker Wendy Kennedy refers to these milestone moments as silver linings.

First, I am grateful that The NIIC team worked diligently to keep the campus open in safe and smart ways. In turn, our NIIC clients doubled down and examined their business models to identify how they could pivot, seize new growth opportunities. They showed up, did the hard work to power through.

Second, I am grateful that we quickly implemented virtual delivery models for our programs and services to meet our clients’ and our community’s needs. We did so to level the entrepreneurial playing field.  National small business closure rates exceeded 20%, with minority enterprises at 1.5 to 2 times that rate. We cannot stress enough the importance of entrepreneurial support in tenuous times. Our clients and our staff responded to the global pandemic’s challenges with grace, grit, and resilience.

I am also grateful for the new business-building resources we developed. We recognized early that savvy organizations keep moving even as the pandemic paralyzed and paused so much in our world.


  • New technology helped us to serve our clients better. Technology like Meeting Owl Pro, Matterport virtual tours, and Whova mobile event app enabled us to bridge in-person conferences to Livestream via mobile and web-based apps.
  • Reimagine Small Business Resource Guide (print and digital, interactive formats available) provides ideas, resources, and tools to help small businesses survive and thrive in the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide was made possible through the publication’s sponsors and our federal CARES Act funding.
  • The NIIC Navigator® Online Toolset offers over 70 new courses and multiple business builder pathways.
  • NIIC Navigator Academy serves early-stage companies and provides curated resources and access to global resources, tools, and experts. The Academy is possible through our partnership with Breakthrough4Business.


Major Milestones

  • Two of our clients received significant SBIR and MTEC awards, forging new opportunities with the federal government to build on our statewide support and assistance in the SBIR proposal development process. These two companies alone garnered more than $6 million in non-dilutive capital.

I’m thankful for our focus on results while remembering we are in the people business.

  • NIIC campus occupancy increased to over 78%, despite significant headwinds in the commercial office space environment and the financial pressure on the pipeline of entrepreneurs.
  • Our clients garnered over $9.4 million in capital investment and grants, launched 32 products, secured seven patents, and generated over $14.1 million in payroll on our park campus, bringing our cumulative payroll to nearly $150 million since our designation as a Park.
  • We reported a record Certified Tech Park annual wage rate of $76,533, raising our cumulative average park wage rate to $55,992 (significantly above county and average regional salary rates).

I’m grateful for The NIIC’s 20th anniversary and for the privilege of serving the NIIC for the past 20 years. We did not expect to face a devastating pandemic. We expected a year of celebrations. Yet, there were reasons to celebrate.

  • The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) awarded two significant awards to The NIIC: The 2020 Dinah Adkins Award (the association’s top honor) and The Entrepreneur Center of the Year 2020: Mixed-Use.
  • Our Innovation Showcase Breakfast Program brought new friends and advocates to our campus. We hosted invitation-only, small group breakfasts to showcase our clients, their products, and platforms, and it served as a platform to celebrate our 20th

I am grateful for The NIIC Board of Directors, who supported renaming our annual Ideas@Work movement and establishing a new award to honor our friend and colleague Dr. Daryl R. Yost, who passed away. The Dr. Daryl R. Yost Excellence in Philanthropy inaugural recipient is Maclyn (Mac), Parker. We recognized Mac at our 2020 Dr. Daryl R. Yost Ideas@Work Livestream earlier this month.

I am grateful for all the ways we have encouraged innovators and entrepreneurs this year.

Now, more than ever, we need your support. If you are considering a year-end donation to worthwhile non-profit organizations, please consider The NIIC at https://theniic.org/donate/. When you give to The NIIC, you give to the entrepreneurial community and support business builders.

This holiday season, may you and your family enjoy quality time together, relaxation, self-care, and a time of renewal to reset for 2021. The entire NIIC  team is excited for the next 20 years! Imagine the possibilities.

In the Spirit of Innovation,

Karl R. LaPan, President and CEO, The NIIC – www.theniic.org


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