Ames City Council gathers to discuss spreading entrepreneurship in Ames


Lindsay Johnson/Iowa State Daily

At the entrepreneurship policy workshop, the City Council sits and takes notes on what the rest of the speakers have to say on raising entrepreneurship.

Elizabeth Gray

Ames City Council members gathered in the Memorial Union on Tuesday night to hear from the Kauffman Foundation about spreading entrepreneurship throughout the Ames and ISU community.

The Kauffman Foundation is a private non-partisan company that focuses on helping people attain economic independence through education and entrepreneurship. 

A series of PowerPoint presentations from the foundation discussed how to go about starting a business and how it is important for local communities to fully endorse small businesses. It focused on things such as the importance of connectivity, density, fluidity and diversity. 

Members of the Kauffman Foundation stressed how important it is to encourage entrepreneurship to ISU students. Students are known to be creative, innovative and passionate towards their dreams and accomplishing their goals. 

City Councilman Tim Gartin asked about the national decline in entrepreneurship and what council members and Ames can do to further encourage entrepreneurship at Iowa State. 

“Go against the current,” said Jason Wiens, policy director in research and policy for the Kauffman Foundation.

Wiens said he wants to inspire students by encouraging creation instead of relying on imitation. He said that a lot of younger generations need someone in their lives they can look up to as well as feel supported to inspire the growth of creativity and passion. 

Wiens also discussed how students generally move to places like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to build new job experience. Then they usually come back to their communities with understandings about the flaws of the business they previously worked for and then create new business ideas to fix those flaws and inefficiencies. 

Building and keeping connections also better the chances of creating a successful business. 

“Connectivity is the most important thing,” said Evan Absher, program officer in research and policy for the Kauffman Foundation. 

However, unless the new business has a full understanding of creating business density and the potential functions of the business, it will not be successful. 

On policy terms, one of the suggestions for the council members was to welcome immigrants. 

“Immigrants are twice as likely to create a new business,” Wiens said. 

A major suggestion at the workshop was to welcome immigrants into the Ames community. Making these immigrants feel accepted and a part of the community is also important, particularly in reference to permits and licensing and tax incentives.

“Entrepreneurs care very little about tax incentives … tax incentives aren’t positively correlated to economic growth,” Absher said.

A few tips from the Kauffman Foundation for students seeking to create their own business some day are to create as many connections as possible, keep them close and make sure they’re diverse. Examples of good connections include successful business owners in your community, elected officials and even possible donors or endorsers. 

The second tip: Don’t be afraid to fail. It might take a few tries before you create a successful business, but don’t get discouraged. Just try again, and focus on the resources you have as well as the ones you lack. 

Being an entrepreneur is a very lonely occupation, the Kauffman Foundation said. You might get frustrated or face several road blocks in your journey to create a successful business, but keep pushing. Many people may critique or judge your plans for the future, but that just means they don’t dream the same as you. It doesn’t mean you will fail.