Community and Economic Development
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and other organizations are joining ranks to uplift the small business community throughout the entire state by starting the Iowa Small Business Relief Fund. The other organizations in the alliance are The Director’s Council, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit, League of United Latin American Citizens – Iowa (LULAC Iowa), One Voice, DREAM Iowa and Iowa Community Capital.
This initiative started with $50,000 in seed money. Then came the alliance of organizations that, in practice, are dedicated to strengthening small businesses in Iowa. The Iowa Small Business Relief Fund aims to target small businesses with one to seven employees, granting them dollars ranging from $500 to $3,500. These grants will cover business-related expenses including, but not limited to, rent, utilities, insurance, delivery services and technology.
The latest Small Business Administration data states there are more than 50,000 businesses employing one to 20 employees, statewide. Small businesses not only provide jobs for more than 50% of the Iowa workforce and more than 64% of the workforce nationwide, but over the last decade small businesses have demonstrated a proven track record of substantial and consistent economic contributions.
“Our business owners are the backbone of our economy. It’s important that we help them weather the storm. Neither the business owners nor the community can afford to allow our small businesses to fall by the wayside. This alliance of organizations is a meaningful step toward helping small businesses and that includes our farmers. More than 40,000 of our farms in the state of Iowa are run by one to four individuals,” said Deidre DeJear, a member of the alliance.
The Iowa Small Business Relief Fund seeks to ensure no Iowa small business is left out. This group welcomes additional community partners and is also accepting contributions to build the fund to address the ongoing needs of small businesses during this time. Within the first week of the operation, the fund received an additional $25,000 from Veridian Credit Union. Contributions are accepted at https://www.empowermoney.org/smallbusinessrelief. Applications opened on April 10 and can be completed at https://www.empowermoney.org/smallbusinessrelief.
“At Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, we believe in the power of entrepreneurs and the value they bring to our communities. We are committed to supporting small businesses through research-based training and technical assistance to ensure we emerge from this crisis, strong,” said Gary Taylor, director for community and economic development with ISU Extension and Outreach.
“Small businesses take on the noble burden of keeping their doors open for us and providing jobs, all while they take care of their families. The formation of this alliance should be a signal to all that these business owners mean a great deal to our communities. We are here for them,” said Teree Caldwell- Johnson, chair of The Director’s Council.