The University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services is partnering with six Northeast Iowa counties to launch a new initiative in support of small business growth and entrepreneurship. The project is one of five in the state.
Program Manager James Hoelscher says he believes the importance of small business is often underestimated.
“We have people out there that have invested their sweat equity who aren’t getting the assistance they need," he said. “And we have people who have maybe never thought about starting a business. If we're going to do this, if we’re ever going to raise up small business to the level it belongs, now is the time."
Hoelscher says the effort is designed to strengthen development through cooperation and collaboration. The six counties in the newest region are Black Hawk, Buchanan, Butler, Bremer, Chickasaw and Grundy.
Leaders can use the new platform to share ideas and provide assistance to those who have yet to open their doors.
Buchanan County’s Economic Development Director George Lake says that concept is already in practice through one of their monthly events called “jellies”.
“We invite people to leave their day jobs and come in and work as a group for four hours,” he explains. “Whether they’re working out of their garage or a bank building, they get together, they start talking and they jell ideas.”
The U.S. Economic Development Administration has been funding regional entrepreneurial projects in Iowa since 2013.