ISU Extension and Outreach Focuses on Supporting Entrepreneurs in Lee County

In our ongoing effort of promoting job growth and economic development in Southeast Iowa, Restoring Iowa Jobs wants to give guest contributors a platform to talk about their organization or business on our blog.

This week’s guest contributor is Alexandria Merk, Marketing Specialist at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office in Lee County!

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Alex Merk

Alex Merk,

Marketing Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Lee County

When the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established the cooperative extension service for the state of Iowa, the goal was to bring the knowledge base of the then Iowa Agriculture College in Ames out to the “working class” people in the rural areas of the state.  Although Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has evolved over time, the focus of educating Iowa’s citizens by bringing ISU’s research and educational resources out to all 99 counties remains the same.

One way that ISU Extension and Outreach has evolved is that we no longer solely focus on agriculture.  Yes, agriculture is still an integral part of extension work, but another key issue that ISU Extension and Outreach focuses on is community economic development through the support of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

This year ISU Extension and Outreach in Lee County is doing work in economic development through multiple programs.  One project that we are excited to bring to the area is the 2014 Lee County Business Plan Competition. “Planting the Seeds for Growing Businesses” is this year’s theme for the competition for entrepreneurs who are interested in starting or expanding businesses in Lee County, Iowa.

If you have a good business plan, you could win a portion or all of $5,000 with your bright idea in 2014.  The competition is open to new business startups, local food enterprises, and existing small business expansions.

A panel of expert judges will review the submitted business plans and listen to presentations from the applicants to determine the allocation of $5,000 in award money among the top finalists and runners-up.  The winner will also receive a one year membership to their choice of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce or Fort Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.

All business plans applications must be received no later than 4:00 PM, on Friday, January 10, 2014 at the Lee County Extension Office, 414 N. Main, Donnellson, IA, 52625.  Winners will be announced on February 12, 2014.

The business plan competition and class is an exciting new avenue to help jumpstart local businesses in Lee County, which are a key component to stimulating economic growth in our area.  Even the entrepreneurs that do not win the competition will benefit from this process by receiving valuable feedback to improve their plans and make them more attractive to potential lenders.

Lee County Extension and Outreach and Iowa MicroLoan are sponsoring the 2014 Business Plan Competition with support from a Business Opportunity Grant from USDA Rural Development.  The program is co-sponsored by the Fort Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce, and Southeast Iowa Small Business Development Center.

For those who wish to spruce up their business planning skills, the Southeast Iowa Small Business Development Center from Southeastern Community College will be conducting Business Plan Development classes on Monday evenings from 6PM to 9PM November 18 through December 9 at the Lee County Extension Office, 414 N. Main Street, in Donnellson.

 

For more information, visit the Lee County Extension and Outreach website at www.extension.iastate.edu/lee/bizplancompetition.

Or contact me directly by phone at 319-835-5116 or email alexmerk@iastate.edu to request a Business Plan Competition Application Packet.

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One thought on “ISU Extension and Outreach Focuses on Supporting Entrepreneurs in Lee County

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