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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Entreprenuers, small business owners offered grant

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have it rough, especially in the current economic slump. That’s why Iowa Innovation Gateway is offering “Dream Big…Grow Here,” a $5,000 grant, to give this population a leg up and provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow or help start their business. The grant will be given to an entrepreneur or small business owner with 50 or fewer employees in Jasper, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Poweshiek, Story or Tama county, according to Iowa Innovation Gateway’s website.

The origin of the grant dates back to June of 2010, when the University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center (RBC) developed a partnership with the Iowa Bankers Association and the Community Vitality Center to attract and link emerging Iowa entrepreneurs with the capital resources available in the state to serve them.

This year, the RBC approached a small group of statewide sponsors, including Iowa Innovation Gateway, to provide funds for regional contests with cash awards of $5,000 and a statewide pitch-off among winners for a grand prize of $10,000.

“Iowa Innovation Gateway is the organization that is doing it for our area,” said Grace Carroll ’12, College Apprentice to Poweshiek Iowa Development, an organization that’s collaborating with Iowa Innovation Gateway on the grant.

“There are multiple organizations that have organized “Dream Big…Grown Here” competition in different areas. It happens around the state,” Carroll said.

Various leaders around Poweshiek County have encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs to apply, according to Deb Collum-Calderwood, Executive Director of Poweshiek Iowa Development.

“We are hosting the competition in our region and we are helping with the marketing, spreading the words out of the competition, making sure that there are as many businesses as possible to apply for the money,” Collum-Calderwood said.

The grant aims to keep businesses stay in local communities, according to Carroll, in addition to helping them grow and develop.
“Often businesses are going to bigger cities in Iowa because there are more people there,” Collum-Calderwood said. “It’s basically a business grant for small towns like Grinnell.”

Collum-Calderwood further explained the grant’s specific focus.

“The contest is an entrepreneurial contest which is focused on small businesses, instead of industry and manufactory,” she said.

Grinnell’s Yumi’s Bakery and Deli is one of the businesses currently in the running.

“Grinnell is trying to get as many people in the town to vote for Yumi’s Bakery,” Carroll said. “If they have the $5,000, they can use it however they want.”

The top businesses ideas will be determined through on-line public voting, currently taking place. The top three to five on-line voting winners will have the chance to present their ideas to a panel of judges in Newton, IA on Sep. 20, 2011. Afterwards, the top ideas will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of judges and the panel will select a winner.

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