Within economic development the topic of entrepreneurship is one of the toughest growth opportunities to properly understand and support. Here in Story County we are fortunate to have a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem rooted in Iowa State University, but the opportunity to support entrepreneurs extends beyond.
As we look at the landscape of our community, we can point to many businesses that started here as small ventures by local entrepreneurs but have since grown to be major industries and employers within our community. Companies like Burke in Nevada and BASF on North Dayton in Ames are companies that were started as novel ideas and grew to be these major industries. This is exactly why supporting these businesses early is so critical for the growth of our community. In economic development, we recognize that between 10-15% of our employment growth is driven by entrepreneurship.
We continue to fight unique ways to support entrepreneurs broadly throughout our community. Two affiliates at the Ames Chamber of Commerce focus entirely on supporting our entrepreneurs, but in completely different ways. Ames Seed Capital has been around for over 30 years and is the oldest seed capital organization in the State of Iowa. This means that Ames and Story County have been supporting these startup companies with critical venture capital for many years. One great success that can be pointed to is Workiva. A small startup with a novel concept, coupled with venture capital from Ames Seed Capital and others, has led to the growth of an incredible Ames-based publicly traded technology company. Our second affiliate focused on the entrepreneurial ecosystem is Startup Ames. Their event-driven community conversations allow entrepreneurs and those aspiring to start their own companies a place to network with others in the community and build a support network to help them find success.
In addition to the organizations we support as affiliates, we find ways to encourage and support many additional efforts to build this ecosystem. From the ISU Startup Factory, to CyStarters, to the Small Business Development Center, all these organizations provide service and resources for different levels and types of businesses. Each of those organizations are vital to the continued success and growth of our entrepreneurs.
While we know that things are certainly different during these times of a global pandemic. The entrepreneurs that we interact with have always strived to be vigilant in the face of adversity. This time is certainly challenging us all now, remember to find opportunities to support these businesses. Whether it’s a locally owned restaurant or shop, or our entrepreneurs working away at the ISU Research Park, all of these businesses are being built by folks who believe in our community and want to grow locally to continue supporting us.
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