DSM REGISTER: Lt. Governor learns about business growth in Warren County

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds visited the Warren County Economic Development office in Indianola last week to learn how the group is helping promote business growth and support entrepreneurship.

Reynolds, who will soon be governor, began her visit by expressing her excitement about Gov. Terry Branstad becoming ambassador to China.

“There is nobody that’s better positioned to move into that role and it’s a crucial role,” Reynolds said. “It’s the two largest economies in the world and they make a good trading partner. There are a lot of Iowa farmers and companies that really rely on our ability to export products.”

She also quickly addressed the state’s $111 million budget shortfall for the upcoming session.

“We still have some growth, but it’s certainly not what’s projected,” Reynolds said. “When you look at maintaining what we have, that goes pretty quickly. We’ll get through it. We continued to have growth last year and our reserves are full...

She said the goal will be to pass a 2-percent allowable growth for schools and build a two-year budget and a five-year projected budget within the first 30 days of the 2017 legislative session.

Once the conversation got back to the topic on the agenda — business growth — WCEDC director Hollie Askey told Reynolds about some of the programs WCEDC has made available to businesses.

Askey said the number one problem new businesses have is finding start-up funding. She said WCEDC encourages businesses to go to local lenders first, but once they’ve exhausted all other options, WCEDC can help businesses with any funding gaps they have.


For that, WCEDC started a small revolving loan fund it paired up with the United States Department of Agriculture.

The fund offers low interest to zero interest micro loans.

WCEDC also has an opportunity fund, which is a grant incentive fund.

“Those are for a little bit more established or high-qualifying type projects like medical centers,” Askey explained.

The corporation gives away $10,000 to residents during its yearly grant contest as well.

Askey also mentioned Warren County becoming a Home Base Iowa program, and offering some of the best incentives in the state.

Next, Marilyn Mueller, a professor of management at Simpson College, spoke about the EMERGE program at the college.

She said EMERGE began with funding from Gerald Edwards. EMERGE is an umbrella program, which helps companies and ideas grow.

“An example of a company that’s in there is BNP123. It is a company that is founded by one of our chemistry professors,” Mueller said. “It’s a nano-technology company and nano-technology has a number of uses, but one of our biggest hopes is using nano-technology to take medicine and put it directly into a cell.”

Once a company is registered with EMERGE it will easily find support from the business community or students, depending on its needs.

Kelly Mitchell of Des Moines Area Community College was also at the meeting.

Mitchell discussed DMACC’s business resources department, which, in part, helps companies find creative ways to fulfill their workforce needs.

She said the greatest inhibitor to business growth in Iowa right now is finding a workforce.

Pat Murphy, with Murphy Tower Service, agreed with the statement. He said he has trouble finding people to work for him because they either can’t pass the background test, don’t have their driver’s license, or are scared of heights.

The group, which also included Warren County Supervisor Doug Shull and Carlisle Mayor Ruth Randleman, then discussed what the state can do to train more workers.