Iowa City Area Development on Tuesday kicked off a campaign to raise $4 million over the next four years to fund the organization’s economic development activities in the Corridor from 2018 through 2021.
Mark Nolte, ICAD president and CEO, said to an audience of business executives at hotelVetro in Iowa City that existing employers have 471 unfilled positions and expect to add 1,600 jobs over the next several years
“That means a fairly immediate need for more than 2,000 people,” Nolte said. “We have to fill that need and also look forward with our education systems to understand what the needs of those companies are going to be down the road.”
ICAD plans to spend $800,000 to start new initiatives with an increase in angel investment capital; $800,000 to recruit businesses and jobs to the region; $600,000 to grow businesses and jobs in the region; $1 million to retain and recruit the workforce for the future; and $200,000 on an innovative education collaborative.
Nolte said ICAD is working to make sure every new start up business has a mentor to help it be successful and remain in the community. He said the organization also is working to connect with the growing Chinese community in Iowa City to encourage entrepreneurial activity and capital investment.
Ernesto Sirolli, an expert in local economic development, was the keynote speaker for ICAD’s campaign kickoff breakfast. He said entrepreneurs should not be expected to know and have a passion for all aspects of running a business.
“No one has done it alone,” Sirolli said. “In my research, I have never found a single entrepreneur with a passion to make something, sell it and look after the money. A team is needed to run a successful business.”
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Sirolli said enterprise facilitators can provide entrepreneurs with those whose passion is accounting, sales or manufacturing, allowing entrepreneurs to get out of their solitude.
“We know and we have experience that the death of an entrepreneur is solitude,” he said. “If you are alone in your business, you are going to die.”
Sirolli, drawing on years of experience working in international aid, said the future of every community lies in capturing the passion, intelligence, imagination and resources of its people.
“If we really want to help someone, we need to shut up and listen,” he said. “We need to ask them how we can help them, rather than telling them what we think they need.”