July 10, 2017 by Lynsi Pasutti
The Midwest Partnership Economic Development Corporation (MWP) is collaborating with the University of Northern Iowa’s Business & Community Services (UNI) to pilot a new approach for expressing the region’s appreciation for small business owners while also identifying opportunities to help businesses succeed. The Panora Small Business Visit Blitz, July 25-26, is an extension of MWP’s existing business retention and expansion efforts and UNI’s Regional Entrepreneurship Project (REP).
The Blitz will involve MWP staff, volunteers, and UNI team members dropping by small to midsized business to thank business owners for their dedication, effort, investment and contribution to the Panora area economy. Sarah Gomez, Executive Director of Midwest Partnership, explains that small businesses are the foundation of the regions’ jobs and economic wellbeing. “Our business owners spend sleepless nights and shed blood, sweat and tears to start, operate and grow their businesses,” said Gomez. “The Blitz is our effort to learn about these businesses and what makes them successful.” The Blitz will involve volunteers dropping by businesses July 25-26 to share a brief thank you and asking owners to complete a survey.
Business retention and expansion (BRE) surveys are used as a tool for economic development all across the state, including Midwest Partnership’s four county region of Guthrie, Adair, Audubon, and Greene Counties. Typically focused on medium to large companies or leading employers, most BRE surveys are designed to identify the red flags, growth opportunities, and community issues affecting businesses in the targeted area. Regional and statewide service providers then rally around the needs of individual businesses. Andrew Conrad, Director of UNI’s Institute for Decision Making, notes that small businesses, retail establishments and start-ups are seldom included in economic development BRE efforts due to the sheer number of businesses and the capacity of organizations and volunteers. “Midwest Partnership’s Blitz in Panora is a unique approach to including smaller, locally owned businesses in the BRE process. Once specific needs are identified through the survey, Midwest Partnership will team up with small business development centers, community colleges, utility providers, the City of Panora, universities and other partners to provide individual assistance,” said Conrad. “Additionally, common issues affecting businesses in an area can potentially be identified and then addressed as a whole through this process.” A successful pilot program in Panora would lend to additional visits throughout the MWP region, Region 1 in UNI’s REP, as well as replicated in other regions across the state.
In addition to participating in the survey, all Panora business owners are invited to attend the Blitz’s special Profit and Marketing Mastery Dinner and Workshop on July 26 (3-7:30pm) at the Lake Panorama Conference Center. This free event will be hosted by UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation and Midwest Partnership as part of the Regional Entrepreneurship Project. Attendees will benefit from advancing their financial literacy, proven strategies for boosting their bottom line and strategies for implementing effective marketing and promotion in the coming year.
For more information about Panora’s Small Business Visit Blitz contact Lynsi Pasutti at firstname.lastname@example.org.