April 2016
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Over the past few months I’ve been traveling a lot. Road trips around Iowa in winter can definitely be a crapshoot where weather is concerned. I’ve driven from corner to corner visiting entrepreneurs with thankfully only one white-knuckle day, and you know what? I like it. There’s a certain energy that radiates from entrepreneurs when they start talking about their business or concept, and the passion and expertise they demonstrate never fails to motivate me.

It was encouraging that many of the entrepreneurs at these recent events have been women. Some had well-established businesses and were looking for resources to grow, and others were well underway in researching a new enterprise. The businesses covered the gamut from service, retail and manufacturing, to non-profit and agriculture. I even visited with one woman who singlehandedly runs her own crop and livestock operation. (My inner ‘alpaca-farmer-wanna-be’ was a bit jealous.)

I mention this, because there’s been a lot of press lately on where Iowa stands in the rankings of women-owned businesses. Unfortunately, Iowa seems to be not really ‘standing’ in the ranks as much as kneeling with our nose to the ground. I won’t belabor the numbers because I’m still not convinced they tell the true tale, but I do concur we have work to do.

That’s why, in addition to seeing women business owners at recent events, it’s also good news that there are many positive efforts underway to help increase our statistics. In the next few months alone at least three events are taking place for women entrepreneurs, each of which provide education, motivation and empowerment – not to mention potential financial gain.
  • On April 7th, the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) hosts the 2016 ‘Women Mean Business Summit’ in Altoona. A day focusing on education, motivation and empowerment.
  • On April 26th, Iowa Women Lead Change will host their Eastern Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids, always a great opportunity to inspire leaders, learning and networking. (Men and students will also find it to be a great day!)
  • On June 9th “Invest in She”, hosted by Iowa Women Lead Change, will be held in Des Moines and offer female entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ventures to investors and potentially come away with thousands of dollars for their business. A second event will be held in Cedar Rapids on June 14th.
Most recently, a large group of like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs from all across Iowa gathered together to begin some focused brainstorming efforts on how we can collaboratively raise the bar on women business ownership. Now termed the Iowa Women’s Entrepreneurial Collaboration Council (WE Council for short), this group will continue to meet, with a first step to develop a statewide women entrepreneur program guide. If you are aware of an entrepreneur support organization that would like to be included in the WE Council, please let me know!

These are only a few of the efforts happening across the state to help bolster women entrepreneurship, and there’s always room for more. I challenge you to help lead the charge in your community. Share information on these and other events included on the IASourceLink calendar with entrepreneurs who may be interested. Visit with your local schools to ensure that entrepreneurship is included as a potential career path. Work with your board and community leaders to seek out women who may be interested in launching a venture or looking at potential business succession opportunities within your region. Wouldn’t it be great to see Iowa firmly ‘standing’ when the next set of numbers are released?

PS…speaking of board members, community leaders and others who selflessly give time and sweat equity to benefit community economic development efforts, don’t forget that April is National Volunteer month. Set aside some time this month to let them know how much their efforts are appreciated!

-Amy Kuhlers, Program Manager and Network Builder, IEDA
By Debi Durham via Iowa Economic Development Authority
Congratulations on making it through another Iowa winter! The calendar says that spring has sprung, and just like we’ll soon see daffodils and tulips growing, the season also brings with it another opportunity for growth – the Iowa SMART Conference. 
O'Brien County Wins through Wind
By Loren Flaugh via O'Brien County Economic Development 
In 2003, O’Brien County supervisors passed a wind energy conversion property tax ordinance. The county will soon begin reaping the economic benefits of that decision with the recent MidAmerican commissioning of the 70,000 acre Energy Highland Wind Farm. 

The Highland Wind Farm property tax revenues will have a significant impact on O’Brien County government operations and local school districts for years to come. About 53 percent will go to the school districts and the rest will go for the county’s government administrative uses or township budgets, etc.
NAWBO "Up Your Game" Summit Scheduled for April
By Kristine Creighton via NAWBO
There is a movement growing in Iowa. One of collaboration, connection, influence, difference, mentoring, purpose and legacy. A movement where women business owners are coming together across the state in many ways and many places to empower and promote growth in our businesses, others and ourselves. 

NAWBO Iowa cordially invites all women business owners, entrepreneurs, partners and influencers to participate in the Women Mean Business “Up Your Game” Annual Summit on April 7th at Prairie Meadows Conference Center in Altoona. It is here we collaborate as a united, diverse and energized audience to challenge, inspire and support each other in this mission. 
Iowa Redevelopment Tax Credit Program
By Matt Rasmussen via IEDA
Did you know that state and federal tax incentives exist that can make the purchase and redevelopment of undervalued or environmentally challenged sites a good economic opportunity for a business? 

One of my primary duties at the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is the administration of the Redevelopment Tax Credit Program. The program is designed to provide financial assistance to the redevelopment of “brownfield” and “grayfield” sites in Iowa. Specific definitions exist in Iowa law, but put simply, a brownfield is a site that has real or perceived environmental challenges that have led to it going un-redeveloped, and a grayfield is a site that has vacancy issues or the assessed valuation has fallen significantly. 
Dispelling the Myths about the SBA
By Jayne Armstrong via SBA
The SBA is rebranding itself to better meet the needs of the small business. It starts with a greater awareness of SBA’s programs and services and increased visibility statewide. 

After spending my first year in Iowa listening and learning from our small business community, I realize that many small businesses simply don’t know what we do or what programs and services we have to offer them. It is time to correct the misconceptions about the SBA. 
Did you know…. IASourceLink’s Business License Information Center has a great fact sheet on licensing, registrations, tax requirements and other information commonly needed by businesses? This handy tool is a great resource to print off and have available for the entrepreneurs in your community. We’ve just updated all of the information and links, so if you already use the fact sheet, now’s the time to get your new copy!
If you still have licensing questions, feel free to contact Christine Cavil at or 800-532-1216.
April 7
NAWBO Women Mean
Business Summit

Altoona, IA

April 7
Dubuque, IA

April 14
Dream Big Grow Here Final Pitch-Offs
Des Moines, IA

April 26
IWLC Eastern Iowa Conference
Cedar Rapids, IA

June 9
Invest in She
Des Moines, IA
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