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Iowa State University Extension

Renew Rural Iowa helps Iowans work on their business

Renew Rural Iowa

Sometimes Iowa business people need to work on their business instead of in their business. That’s the message that ISU Extension’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) is sending Iowa business and industry through a partnership with Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa program. CIRAS is making sure manufacturers and small business owners take advantage of the opportunities this program provides for education and networking.

Renew Rural Iowa provides seminars and mentoring that guide new and existing businesses through all phases of developing and operating a successful business, including strategic fit, business planning, marketing, balanced teams, leadership and resources, said Ruth Wilcox, CIRAS program manager.

Business leaders can get so caught up in running their businesses that they may not see how they can take time away from the day-to-day operation. Adam Pollock, owner of Fire Farm Lighting in Elkader, said he was one of those people who didn’t have time — but he attended a Renew Rural Iowa seminar anyway.
“You need to break away that time to get a refresher, to get some perspective,” Pollack said.

“Many businesses are not aware of the range of knowledge and entities in the state available to help them succeed,” Wilcox said. “Renew Rural Iowa is an opportunity for them to learn what resources are out there and to network.”

CIRAS and the Iowa Farm Bureau have a formal agreement to work together for the benefit of small businesses. CIRAS connects Iowa business and industry with research, education and technical assistance. Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa program adds a mentoring model and a rural vitality investment fund to the mix.

“The Farm Bureau’s strengths and its relationship with rural communities, along with CIRAS’ resources, can make a great impact on economic development in Iowa,” said David Lyons, Iowa Farm Bureau chief business development officer. “We can achieve more working together on Renew Rural Iowa than we can separately.”

Wilcox added, “It’s a way to bring all the resources together and find ways to continue to grow the economy in Iowa.”

This article appeared in December 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter