Iowa Organizations Form Alliance to Provide
Small Businesses COVID-19 Support
Iowa organizations are joining ranks to uplift the small business community throughout the entire state, starting the Iowa Small Business Relief Fund; in response to COVID-19. This alliance includes: The Director’s Council, Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit, League of United Latin American Citizens - Iowa (LULAC Iowa), One Voice, Iowa State Extension, DREAM Iowa, and Iowa Community Capital.
Small businesses not only provide jobs for more than 50% of the Iowa workforce and more than 64% of the workforce nationwide, but over the last decade small businesses have demonstrated a proven track record of substantial and consistent economic contributions.
This initiative started with $50,000 in seed money. Then came the alliance of organizations who, in practice, are dedicated to strengthening small businesses in Iowa. The Iowa Small Business Relief Fund aims to target small businesses with 1-7 employees, granting them dollars ranging from $500-$3500. These grants will cover business related expenses including, but not limited to, rent, utilities, insurance, delivery services, and technology. While the state and the federal government have allotted some resources towards small businesses, we are coming to the realization that those resources are simply not enough. The latest SBA data states there are more than 50,000 businesses employing 1 to 20 employees, statewide.
The most recent Small business Administration (SBA) data, published in 2019 reports small businesses created 9,470 new jobs in 2016. Firms employing fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest gains, adding 8,226 jobs (87%), a thirty percent increase from 2015. The smallest gains were in firms employing 100 to 499 employees.
“Our business owners are the backbone of our economy. It’s important that we help them weather the storm. Neither the business owners nor the community can afford to allow our small businesses to fall by the wayside. This alliance of organizations is a meaningful step towards helping small businesses and that includes our farmers. More than 40,000 of our farms in the state of Iowa are run by one to four individuals,” says Deidre DeJear, a member of the alliance.
The Iowa Small Business Relief Fund seeks to ensure no Iowa small business is left out. This group welcomes additional community partners and is also accepting contributions to build the fund; addressing the ongoing needs of small businesses during this time. Contributions are accepted at https://www.empowermoney.org/smallbusinessrelief. Applications will open April 10 and can be completed at https://www.empowermoney.org/smallbusinessrelief.
Quotes from alliance organizations:
“Our main vision is to see individuals and businesses of the African diaspora in Iowa thrive. Many of these businesses provide important services to many people in our community—often going unnoticed in the mainstream. We want to be sure they can get through this time.” Nana Coleman, One Voice, Board Member
“DREAM Iowa believes in the importance of supporting business growth and economic development which is why we are excited to join this much needed coalition to support underserved and underrepresented businesses and entrepreneurs.” Mónica Reyes, Founder of DREAM Iowa
“Latino business owners are hard workers with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. LULAC Iowa believes this initiative will add value to businesses who are invaluable to our communities.” Joe Henry, LULAC Council #307 President
“At Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, we believe in the power of entrepreneurs and the value they bring to our communities. We are committed to supporting small businesses through research based training and technical assistance to ensure we emerge from this crisis, strong.” Gary Taylor, Director Iowa State Extension Community and Economic Development
“It is critical to reach out to people who have a need right now. Small businesses have a tremendous need and it is our duty to disseminate to them information and get them resources.” Ying Sa, Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit
“Small businesses take on the noble burden of keeping their doors open for us and providing jobs, all while they take care of their families. The formation of this alliance should be a signal to all that these business owners mean a great deal to our communities. We are here for them.” Teree Caldwell- Johnson, Chair of The Director’s Council
“ICC as a CDFI, with a statewide mission, has agreed to join the Coalition. ICC wishes to be supportive of the Coalition’s request for funds and to facilitate implementation of the program.” Mark Edelman, Iowa Community Capital
Our main vision is to see individuals and businesses of the African diaspora in Iowa thrive. A lot of these businesses provide important services to many people in our community—often not necessarily noticed in the mainstream, so we want to be sure they can get thru this time.
DREAM Iowa was co-founded shortly after DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was implemented in 2012. The group had become politically active in 2014, holding educational community events like DACA & Know Your Rights clinics. DREAM Iowa finished their first documentary, “Every DREAMer Has A Story,” in 2015 and began holding panel discussions across Iowa. DREAM Iowa held its first Youth Leadership Summit in 2016 with over 90 youth from across the state. The YLS now unites over 200 youth from over 25 different schools. Financial capability workshops and material were developed in 2017 and DREAM Iowa started traveling to all corners of the state of Iowa offering Financial Independence workshops. DREAM Iowa became a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 2018. DREAM Iowa concentrates its focus and resources to support immigrants in ending generational poverty and gaining financial freedom.
The Mission of the League of United Latin American Citizens is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.
Iowa State Extension
ISU Extension and Outreach builds a strong Iowa by engaging all Iowans in research, education, and extension experiences to address current and emerging real-life challenges.
The Director’s Council
TDC has two primary objectives. The first is to provide support to our fellow members and their organizations through collective grant applications, technical support and peer guidance. The second is to pool our resources to create efficient and effective social service programs that are lacking in our community. Our collective commitment to positively affect the lives of members of our community has given us the strength to begin the planning and implementation of several exciting programs including small dollar loan programs, small business development and personal financial coaching.
Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit
The Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit’s mission is to bring businesses of diverse backgrounds together to share, learn, and celebrate the immigrant entrepreneurship experience and contribution to the overall community.
Iowa Community Capital
Iowa Community Capital (ICC) is an Iowa 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is led by the ISU Community Vitality Center. ICC currently conducts the Solidarity Microfinance Program targeting low-income women entrepreneurs in Des Moines. Since January 2015, more than 150 low-income women have participated in the Solidarity Program and achieved a 100% loan repayment rate. ICC is the only certified CDFI with a statewide mission in Iowa to provide financial services and business technical assistance to low-income populations and underserved communities.