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Celebrating Small Business Month: Empowering Entrepreneurs in Iowa

Katherine Harrington

From Katherine Harrington, President & CEO | West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce

As Small Business Month dawns upon us in the United States, it’s time to recognize the heartbeats of our economy – small businesses. These enterprises, often the dreams of passionate individuals, not only drive economic growth but also foster innovation and resilience within communities. As we celebrate Small Business Month, it’s imperative to acknowledge their significant contributions and the diverse tapestry they weave across our nation and in Iowa.

Small Businesses in Iowa:

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020 witnessed a record surge in new business formation, underscoring the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in our nation. Specifically, in Iowa, small businesses reign supreme. A staggering 99.2 percent of businesses in Iowa are classified as small by the US Small Business Administration, employing nearly 46 percent of the state’s workforce.

As we celebrate Small Business Month, let us not only recognize the resilience and innovation of small businesses but also reaffirm our commitment to fostering an inclusive ecosystem where every entrepreneur, regardless of background, has the opportunity to thrive. Together, let us continue to champion diversity, empowerment, and economic prosperity.

The Three P’s: People, Promotion, and Products:

At the West Des Moines Chamber, we believe in empowering small businesses through what I term as the ‘three P’s’ – People, Promotion, and Products.

  1. People: Connection is the cornerstone of growth. Through our extensive network of events and gatherings (over 150 each year), we facilitate meaningful connections that can transform businesses and lives. One new connection has the power to open doors and opportunities that were previously unimaginable.
  2. Promotion: Visibility is key to success. With 166 newsletters produced annually and an extensive and loyal following, we amplify the stories of our members, promote their offerings, and provide invaluable marketing support. We believe in shining a spotlight on the achievements and aspirations of our small business community.
  3. Products: Access to resources can be a game-changer. With over 850 members, we serve as a conduit, linking small businesses with products and services that can propel their growth. Furthermore, we offer a plethora of opportunities to enhance their competitiveness.

Empowering Minority Business Owners:

In the vibrant landscape of small businesses, minority entrepreneurs stand as pillars of innovation and economic empowerment. At the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a principle but a practice ingrained in our initiatives.

One of our flagship programs, the Latino Trade Network, exemplifies this dedication. Serving as a ‘chamber inside a chamber,’ it brings together statewide and regional Latino business owners, fostering collaboration, sharing of ideas, and mutual support. Through monthly meetings and quarterly regional events, the Latino Trade Network cultivates an environment where entrepreneurs thrive, regardless of background or origin.

Additionally, the West Des Moines Leads program exemplifies our ethos of collaboration over competition. By facilitating business network groups where firms complement rather than compete with each other, we create fertile ground for small businesses to flourish.

The international Athene Black & Brown Business Summit, presented by Wells Fargo, serves as another testament to our commitment. This two-day conference attracts entrepreneurs nationwide, providing invaluable insights and resources to propel their businesses forward. Moreover, our pitch competition, generously supported by sponsors like Bank of America, has disbursed over $150,000 to deserving minority business owners, catalyzing their growth and success.

This just scratches the surface of how the West Des Moines Chamber is supporting our city. If you are a small business with 1-2 employees, membership is $290/year and includes many membership benefits that can be a game changer for your business. Let me know if you would like to learn more at katherine@wdmchamber.org or 515-689-4447. Thank you for your interest because the WEST is yet to come!

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