Burt Chojnowski is a rural renaissance man. He is an entrepreneurâ€™s entrepreneur. He is an award winning filmmaker and serial entrepreneur for forty years. His documentary Kora, about the most sacred mountain the Himalayas, won awards for Best Documentary and Best Music at the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival in Des Moines recently. Kora was also a nominee for Best Iowa Film.
In his recent article, Turning Fairfield, Iowa into a Rural Renaissance City, Burt has created worldwide attention on Fairfield and Iowa since its publication in the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Journal last month. He is the editor of the 2011 Fairfield Edge magazine that profiles over 40 companies and organizations and describes the competitive advantages of market changing companies in rural Iowa.
Burt has hosted the National Rural Entrepreneurial Gathering, now called the FRED conference, a showcase for entrepreneurial development system practice in Fairfield and is a national expert and presenter on grassroots, bootstrapping economic development strategies involving asset quilting and economic gardening. He is manager of the Linked-in Economic Gardening Group and was one of the original members of Linked-in, the fast growing network for professionals in the world. Burt has helped raise over $80 for Fairfield-based companies and helped establish IowaMicroloan.org, a $50 million venture capital fund targeted at rural Iowa companies and an equity fund for food-entrepreneurs in Southeast Iowa. He also organizes an annual Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs and has focused on the arts, food and digital media.
When he was nineteen, Burt started the first natural food restaurant in the Midwest and was on the team that created Maharishi International University and moved it to Iowa in 1974. One of his great accomplishments may have been when he won a ribbon at the 2010 Iowa State during the cow-chip toss.
Areas of Expertise
Start up and in business mentoring, Entrepeneurship education
An idea worth spreading
Entrepreneur Rhymes with Manure - a failed business is compost for innovation and a new enterprise.
I'm passionate about
Local foods, digital media and supporting entrepreneurs
Talk to me about
Local Economy, local foods, entrepreneurship
People don't know I'm good at
cooking, snowboarding, golfing, film-making, story telling, playing with kids
My TED story
I made an award-winning documentary called Kora. You can see the trailer, read about the story of the movie and download the soundtrack at Kora-movie.com. I didn't have anywhere in my rural community of 9,400 to show it, so I decided to create an independent movie theater that could connect good ideas with the world. How does any movie theater make money? Popcorn. Yup, I also started the Chief Appanoose Popping Corn Co. to market locally grown Iowa heirloom popcorn that is small, tasty and hull-less. For the last seven years, I have been host to the National Rural Entrepreneurial Gathering, now called the FRED conference - Focus on Rural Entrepreneurial Development. Fred rhymes with Ted so I decided to create the TEDxFairfield and TEDxFRED events to showcase the rural renaissance city I live in and best practices of community development from around North America.