By: Steve Dust
The Cedar Valley economic area thrives on successful businesses that began one day when its owner said, “I can do that – better.” Some of these former startups are still identified with the owner – while others have grown into international business powers.
All over the Cedar Valley there are examples of people who are passionate about something, determined that no one can do it any better than they, and opened a business to prove it – people like the Bertch family, the Far Reach Technologies partners, or Van Miller’s growing-every-day-into-something-different VGM, or the CBE Group, or Mudd Advertising, or….
As their business grew, each of them discovered the value of our government relations, information, education, and networking resources, the market growth spurred by ongoing promotion, and all the other things your professional team does to make the Cedar Valley a vibrant place for business startup and growth.
An observer of business startup and growth trends in the US, Brad Feld, recently wrote, Startup Communities – Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. Based on his decades of starting businesses, becoming an early stage venture capitalist, and now known for his highly (some would say outrageously) successful Foundry Group in Boulder, CO, Brad eloquently writes about the role of organizations like the Alliance & Chamber in creating and sustaining that Entrepreneurial Ecosystem mentioned in the title.
The very best role the Alliance & Chamber can play to foster a robust Startup Community – that encourages a faster rate of business startups and attracts more people with the desire to take the entrepreneurial plunge is: Cheerleader and Feeder. In other words, Support.
- Work on economic vitality – grow the market! Create a place where startups have the best chance of success: work on infrastructure like broadband, and amenities to create a vibrant, economic base
- Make connections – directly, to new sales or service opportunities, or indirectly with exposure to customers and vendors and service providers through networking events, and to other feeder organizations – like UNI’s Center for Business Services and SCORE.
- Inform them – with inexpensive access to high quality service providers in educational sessions on topics of interest to new businesses – like healthcare reform, social media tools, or the like – delivering info those new business owners will use to increase business results and avoid pitfalls.
- Work with local and state government to keep them out of the way of business startup and success. Though almost always well intentioned, government gets in the way of startups and growing business with the increased cost of complying with or being constrained by this rule or that
- Be the gathering place for startup community leaders. The leaders of our start up community must be people who have recently started their own businesses. As busy as they are, other owners of startup businesses are the best to relate to and offer actionable advice on the startup experience. The Alliance & Chamber is the platform – the roost – for emerging entrepreneurs to gather, and share their own experiences. It’s also great feedback for the Alliance & Chamber to build its Cedar Valley Start Up action agenda.
Believe me: there’s a lot of competition among places for business startup activity. We, and they, understand the economic power of startups, and the culture it engenders for addressing social as well as economic issues. Your Alliance & Chamber is motivated and equipped and working to ensure that the Cedar Valley economic area is an attractive place to take that giant step – the one taken by every person when they’ve uttered the words, “I’m starting a business.”