Here’s what central Iowa’s new vision plan says about entrepreneurship

Des Moines. (Phil Roeder/Flickr)

The newest vision plan for Central Iowa calls more entrepreneurship-centric programming and bolstering ways to connect the area’s startups with funding.

“While much work is being done to seed new enterprises in Central Iowa, supporting them through the numerous phases leading to fiscal stability will be critical,” the plan reads.

Local business and civic leaders unveiled the plan, Capital Crossroads 2.0, Wednesday night. It builds on and continues planning laid out in the first Capital Crossroads from five years ago.

The plan covers a lot of ground and thoughts on how to improve central Iowa. There is a specific section, though, focused on entrepreneurship.

It’s worth noting that while Capital Crossroads lays out these ideas, none of them are certainty. Local leaders have used the plan to provide focus on future initiatives.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the ideas mentioned in Capital Crossroads 2.0 connected to entrepreneurship and technology:

Entrepreneurial programming

  • New industry-specific accelerators should only form if central Iowa has a “true competitive advantage in the industry.”
  • The report calls for a “startup commercialization program” to match the region’s larger companies with entrepreneurs, providing mentorship and connections. This is based off of a program in Atlanta.
  • Continuing support or boosting the area’s coworking spaces, makerspaces, startup efforts at Iowa State University, and regional events like 1 Million Cups and Celebrate! Innovation Week.

Funding and investment

  • Central Iowa should attempt to form new seed or “proof-of-concept” funds. The report notes that an earlier attempt, NestMint, shutdown due to insufficient investment.

Education and support

  • Constructing a physical “hub” to provide business resources for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs.
  • Supporting efforts to boost diversity within central Iowa’s entrepreneurial community, such as the Invest in She pitch competitions.
  • Encouraging businesses to promote internal innovation and “intrapreneurship.”
  • Providing entrepreneurship education across all grade levels.
  • Developing a “Coding Academy.”

“Smart City” initiatives

  • Bolstering Internet speeds across central Iowa, namely providing access to gigabit-per-second broadband. The report noted Mediacom’s recent announcement that it is providing these speeds to its Iowa customers.
  • Develop and launch a “coordinated Smart City initiative” across central Iowa for integrating and testing new technology across the region. As an example, the report points to proposals in Kansas City to provide free Wi-Fi and develop smart streetlights, among other efforts.

The full report can be found here.

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at mpatane@clayandmilk.com.