Iowa State University (ISU) was recently named the #1 Entrepreneurial University of the Year for the Americas by the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities. This latest recognition of Iowa State’s entrepreneurship program is the third national or international award in as many years and is the result of a university-wide approach to supporting innovation.
One of the leaders responsible for this success is David P. Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University, and Interim Vice President for Economic Development and Industry Relations (EDIR).
Now in his eleventh year at Iowa State, Spalding has been a foundational leader who has overseen the entrepreneurial growth at Iowa State and is at the center of innovation.
Under his leadership, the total enrollment at the Ivy College of Business has grown 33% in the ten years from 2012-2022. Spalding acknowledges that the growth is not an accident, but the result of great faculty who care about what they are doing in the classroom. “Iowa State is internationally known for research, but it is also essential that we be on the cutting edge of what is happening in the field,” said Spalding. “Over the past 10 years, we have launched new programs after listening to the needs of our students and industry.”
In an ever-changing business landscape, Spalding and his team recognize the importance of staying current. “We talk with a lot of businesses across the state to identify where their needs are, and we build our programs in response to that.”
Spalding grew up in Kentucky and spent much of his career on Wall Street in New York City. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history cum laude in 1976 from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and a Master of Business Administration degree in finance from New York University in 1984.
He began his career in New York with The Chase Manhattan Bank. His rounds in the banking industry included being vice president with The First National Bank of Chicago and senior vice president with GE Capital Corporate Finance Group Inc. In addition, he was a managing director at Lehman Brothers in New York, and more recently vice chairman of The Cypress Group LLC, a firm that he co-founded and co-managed.
After 29 years in banking and private equity investing, Spalding wanted to do something with a higher mission than Wall Street. “I always believed in the transformative nature of higher education, and I wanted to give back to youth in particular.” He returned to Dartmouth and spent the next eight years in higher education, most recently serving as senior vice president and senior advisor to Dartmouth’s president.
Through a national search, Spalding landed in Ames, which was also geographically appealing to his family. “I was drawn into the land grant mission of Iowa State University,” said Spalding.
Comparing Dartmouth to Iowa State is not easy. Dartmouth is one of the smallest Ivy League schools, with a total enrollment around 6,000 students. But Spalding saw Iowa State was well-positioned to impact a vast number of students across the state, region, and country. “As a land grant university, I appreciate the practical admissions process that allows for broad student access, how the university is engaged in the economic activity of the state, and of course, the research component that has a global reach.”
During his time as dean, the college has added six undergraduate majors including entrepreneurship, business analytics, human resources management, health care management, actuarial science, and a bachelor of business administration (BBA), which is an online program for those who started college and want to complete their degree. In addition, five new master’s programs were launched including finance, business analytics, entrepreneurship, healthcare analytics and operations, and real estate development, along with an Executive MBA focused on agriculture, food and biosystems. This year, the college is launching a fully online part-time MBA program and next year, a masters of Accounting Analytics.
The office of Economic Development and Industry Relations (EDIR) that Spalding oversees, assists external stakeholders in accessing the unique capabilities and services of Iowa State University. EDIR is a single point of contact to streamline the process of making connections between industry and the university. This office includes Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), the Iowa Small Business Development Center Iowa (SBDC), Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP), the Office of Innovation Commercialization (OIC), and the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.
Last fall, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship received the 2022 Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the highest honor presented by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, a group of more than 200 leading university entrepreneurship programs around the world.
In 2021, Iowa State received the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Model Program Award, the highest of the organization’s four annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education awards.
The most recent entrepreneurial ranking assessed the prioritization of entrepreneurial initiatives across the university and solidified ISU’s global reputation for innovation and excellence. “This award recognizes our approach to incorporate entrepreneurial initiatives throughout the university and foster an innovative mindset in our students, faculty and staff,” said Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are ingrained in the culture at Iowa State University, so much, in fact, that it is part of the brand of ISU. “Iowa State has become a recognized national leader in innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class educational programs, activities, and facilities,” said President Wintersteen. “Our numerous awards for entrepreneurial education demonstrate that Innovate at Iowa State is helping our students express their amazing creativity to make the world a better place.”
It was this culture that not only appealed to Spalding, but one that he has leaned into and reinforced as dean and vice president. “There is a tradition of collaboration among the colleges and deans at Iowa State. In my experience, this collaboration is like nothing I have ever experienced before.”
The culture built the Innovate at Iowa State brand, and the brand is spreading a new energy across campus that is impacting all seven colleges. Iowa State University’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program is ranked #11 in the nation by The Princeton Review. Iowa State was the first public university in Iowa to offer an undergraduate major in entrepreneurship and only the eighth in the United States to offer a Ph.D. specialization in entrepreneurship. Programs like CYstarters, CyBIZ Lab, and ISU Startup Factory exemplify Iowa State’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
For Spalding, it comes down to providing opportunities to students that will prepare them for the future and creating a positive economic impact on the state. He points to countless examples where the areas he oversees have a local, regional, national, and international impact and each is led by exceptional leaders.
The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP), led by the President and Director Rick Sanders, has doubled in the past ten years. With tenants like Vermeer, Kent Corporation, Sukup Manufacturing, Workiva, and John Deere, the ISURP is a hub of global technology and innovation.
The Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), led by Director Mike O’Donnell, has helped more than 4,400 businesses and manufacturers in the past five years. The program reaches every county in Iowa and created an economic impact of more than $3 billion.
The ISU Research Foundation (ISURF) and Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (OIPTT), led by Director Patrick Klepcyk, facilitates the inventive and creative works of Iowa State University’s employees and students, and transfers that work for the benefit of society. Collectively, they work on about 100 patent applications and 1,400 supporting agreements in a year.
The Small Business Development Center Iowa (SBDC), led by Director Lisa Shimkat, offers no-cost business counseling to small-business owners and entrepreneurs. During the past fiscal year, SBDC counseled 4,217 clients and those companies self-reported more than $156 million in sales increases, 213 new business starts, and 1,961 new jobs created.
The Pappjohn Center for Entrepreneurship (JPEC) has seen unprecedented success and been validated with top national and international awards. As an example, at the end of last year, 88 total startups have graduated from the ISU Startup Factory and more than $47 million has been raised in external financing since the program’s inception in 2016. Led by Director Judi Eyles, the Pappajohn Center is perhaps the definition of Innovation at Iowa State University.
In an op-ed, Dean Spalding said, “the return on the investment that the university delivers from federal and state sources is significant and the ripple effect reaches well beyond campus to benefit every corner of Iowa.”
On any given weekend, people will arrive at The Slater Station in Slater, Iowa, by car, bicycle, or the preferred method of a golf cart, to enjoy the outdoor atmosphere, conversation amongst friends, and a cold one. This summer, the bar celebrated its one-year anniversary of selling drinks in a can and being a family-friendly place to unwind from the week.
Building a bar was not the original intention of the two couples from Huxley, Ardie and Cindy Drummond and Roger and Carol Ossian, who own the establishment.
“Originally, we were going to turn this space into a garage to hold a couple classic cars,” said Ardie, looking around the space that is now a bar. “We thought it would be fun to have a car club and maybe sell a few drinks. That was the original reason why we got our liquor license, but it quickly shifted once we started building it out.”
The Drummonds and Ossians are long-time friends, having first met each other when their daughters were playing sports together. The friendship evolved over the years to include woodworking that launched their first business venture together. Roger and Ardie create custom cabinets on the side through their 501 Woodshop label, which was the original reason why they purchased the building on Main Street.
As some point when Ardie and Roger were building out the garage, the idea shifted to creating a bar. Cindy and Ardie agreed to take on the day-to-day operations of the bar and spent time learning the point-of-sale system and ordering. “The scary part of starting all of this is wondering if anyone would buy beer from us,” said Cindy, reflecting on the opening weekend.
On June 30, 2022, with no announcement and little fanfare, the Drummonds put a small sign out front that indicated they were open. A golf cart passing by saw the sign, stopped, and asked “are you open?” By the end of the night, there were about 30 people who stopped in. “That was enough,” said Cindy.
Their first test was the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend. “We didn’t know if we purchased enough beer,” said Ardie, who then phoned in a favor from the former owner of the Nite Hawk Bar & Grille. They quickly learned they did not and pivoted to ordering more.
When visiting The Slater Station today, pay attention to the custom made tables by Ardie and Roger that are sourced from repurposed materials. The bar is made from beams from an old car dealership in Des Moines. The outdoor tables are old electrical spools, and the tin siding on the walls are from an old barn.
This past summer, they installed the roof covering for the outdoor seating and expanded the deck. The owners have plans to continue to expand. They recently purchased the lot adjacent to The Slater Station that they will use for a family-friendly green space, and Ardie has aspirations of finally building the garage on the property, with a “car club” to follow.
The Slater Station is located at 501 Main Street, Slater, Iowa 50244.
304 Main St.
Ames, Iowa 50010
Phone: (515) 232-2310
About the Ames Chamber
Centrally and conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest and Iowa, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy, flourishing cultural environment, and the world-renowned Iowa State University.
With over 700 members, the Ames Chamber of Commerce strives to make Ames a better place to live, work, and do business by strengthening the economic vitality and the quality of life in the Ames community.