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Senator’s Entrepreneurship Expo gives Iowans government contract opportunities

U.S.+Sen.+Joni+Ernst+speaking+at+the+Entrepreneur+Expo+Sept.+22.
Courtesy of Ernst Staff
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst speaking at the Entrepreneur Expo Sept. 22.

The Scheman Building was buzzing with entrepreneurs and contractors on Friday for Sen. Joni Ernst’s Entrepreneur Expo.

Small businesses from the heartland gathered to meet with buyers and to seek potential government contracts. The event went from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday in the Scheman Building. It featured panels, breakout sessions and 31 federal agency departments and state entities in attendance.

Ernst hosted the event and was happy to connect Iowans with business opportunities in Washington D.C. She is hopeful that this expo will help to stop the decline of Iowans participating in federal contracting.

“I’ve been a little bit concerned about the numbers I am seeing with small businesses in Iowa and their engagement with government contracting,” Ernst said. “This is a great opportunity to bring federal agencies into the state of Iowa […] This is our first entrepreneur expo at Iowa State University and I hope it is something we can do again in the future.”

Noah Healy, a design engineer, has been working under a doctor in the ophthalmology cornea division at the University of Iowa. Healy wants to get traction on the ideas they have been developing in the department and came to get exposure to potential buyers.

“There is talent all over the country but often I think the middle of the country is overlooked,” Healy said.

There were many potential buyers present from across federal departments, Iowa departments, the military and more.

Lisa Sanders, the director of science and technology for the U.S. Special Operations Command, said she was excited to be at the event and hearing from Midwest small businesses. Sanders’ advice as a potential contractor was for small businesses to continue to come to events like this and bring new ideas.

“You don’t have to know how to go read a contract or you don’t have to have an official registered number in order to give your idea to us,” Sanders said. “How can we engage with you? That’s really important to us and that’s why we come to these events.”

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