Why I choose to create here
“When it comes to U.S. job growth, startup companies aren’t everything. They’re the only thing.”
The study, based on U.S. Census data from 1977 to 2005, showed that job growth in the U.S. is driven entirely by new businesses.
Another, more recent study by the Kauffman Foundation drilled down even deeper. Within the world of new businesses, scalable, growth-oriented startups – mostly in high-tech industries – are the true leaders of job growth.
So, how does all this relate to me? (And hopefully you, too):
I’ve lived in Iowa my entire life. Growing up, like so many others, I couldn’t wait to leave. But somewhere along the line, that view completely changed.
Almost by accident, I became the business editor of my college newspaper a few years ago. As I started to meet entrepreneurs, I saw for the first time people truly proud to be Iowans. They were clear-eyed about the challenges they faced being half a continent away from Silicon Valley, but they pushed on, determined to prove to the world that amazing things can happen here.
Over the past few years, I’ve met an unbelievable cast of characters who share this passion and vision. As a journalist, I’ve done my best to keep up – hanging around the sidelines and documenting the happenings of these brave souls.
So when The Gazette Company CEO Chuck Peters called me a few weeks ago and said he wanted to create a new future for local media – a future co-created with our community – I knew I couldn’t say no. That’s why I wanted to be a part of this project: We Create Here.
The data has shown that people who are willing to take a risk and build something new are vitally important for future prosperity across the nation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is just as true here: think of how Arthur Collins started building radios in his basement. My goal is to truly capture the stories of these creators, working alongside them to create shared meaning and understanding and to foster an environment in which they (and we) can thrive.
Part of this work will include learning about entrepreneurs and the issues they face (think Eric Engelmann and his vision to bring an accelerator to New Bohemia). And it will certainly include businesses that wouldn't traditionally be called “startups” (think retired Hawkeye Nate Kaeding and his new brand of Iowa whiskey). In this way, these stories will be an extension of work I've done previously with Silicon Prairie News and the Creative Corridor Project.
But that's just one piece of the puzzle. To be successful, we need your help. There is so much more expertise in the community than any one person could ever hope to possess. We need to initiate constructive, nuanced conversations that included everyone involved. And we need to encourage a culture of action – creating the future we all want to see.
If this rings true, or if you have questions, please contact me. Who has been doing great work and is long overdue for recognition? What issues keep you up at night? And what makes you feel hopeful for the future? I’d love to get in touch.