Buchanan Cnty Leadership Program
Eastern Iowa Shark Tank
Starting a local Business Incubator
Skilled Iowa Buchanan County
Is it time to start your own business?
Critiquing Employees


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Your business newsletter from the
Buchanan County Economic Development Commission

Enroll Now for 2016 Leadership Program
Buchanan County Leadership Development Program
“Fostering Leadership in Our Communities to Ensure a Better Tomorrow"

The 2016 Leadership Development Program will meet on 8 consecutive Thursday evenings, 6:45-9:15,  February 18 - April 7. Register by clicking here.
Are you an individual who wants to make a difference in your community, church or school? Economic and Community Development projects are most likely to be successful when initiated and supported by citizens at the grassroots. The Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC) has established a Leadership Development Program that will teach the skills needed to encourage and support community involvement by individuals who want to make a difference in their communities.

One objective of the Program is to create stronger community bonds so each meeting will be held in a different Buchanan County community. The program will end with an awards banquet and a celebration of county-wide economic development activities. Cost of the program is $150 per person. To ensure optimal participation, class size is limited to 20 participants.

Curriculum: 2015 Buchanan County Leadership Program
Week 1:  Dinner and Talent Insights Success Insights evaluation, followed by “Expectations  of Leadership.” Thursday, February 18.
Week 2:   Project Management & Planning Thursday, February 25.
Week 3:   Review of Talent Insights Success Insights evaluation, followed by Group Dynamics and Decision Making. Thursday, March 3.
Week 4:   Sharing your good news!  Communication, writing press releases and using social media. Thursday, March 10.
Week 5:   Working with local governments & finding Grants. Thursday, March 17.
Week 6:   Meeting Facilitation and Presentation Skills.   Thursday, March 24.
Week 7:   Recruiting, mentoring and managing volunteers. Thursday, March 31
Week 8:   Awards dinner and Celebrating Economic Development Banquet With a keynote speaker.  Thursday, April 7.

Registrations are due by Wednesday, February 10.
Register by clicking here. 
To learn more about the Buchanan County Leadership Program, contact BCEDC Director George Lake. or call 319-334-7497

Shark Tank! Eastern Iowa Style
Iowa's Dream Big Grow Here Contest Returns!
$5,000 to be awarded


Would you like to have $5,000 to expand your business or to be used as seed money to launch your business? Have I got a deal for you! The UNI Center for Business Growth and Innovation is sponsoring Dream Big Grow Here (DBGH) to help budding entrepreneurs in Buchanan County and Eastern Iowa.
The process starts by registering your business idea by January 31st. The DBGH contests were developed as an attractive cash competition to engage entrepreneurs online, where they could then be connected with resource providers in their home communities and online. It has become a powerful tool to foster collaboration between existing service providers and a marvelous way to celebrate small business in the state.

Businesses can register under one of six different business categories with $5,000 awarded to a winner in each category:   Retail/Wholesale;  Ag Innovation; Professional Services; Hospitality/Restaurants; Manufacturing/Bioscience/IT and Pre-Revenue.

The path to $5,000 includes online presentations and voting, contest finalists selected by a panel judges, professional pitch coaching and then you making a live pitch in front of hundreds at Iowa’s annual EntreFest event!

Buchanan County Economic Development Director George Lake explained, “Dream Big Grow Here is in its third year of operation and it is growing bigger each year. This is an opportunity for start-ups and existing businesses to secure $5,000 for their business by doing a serious review of their business operations and putting together a verbal and video presentation to sell the viability of their dreams to others. I encourage every entrepreneur to check it out.”

Are you stoked! Go to to get the facts and register your Big Dream and then Grow that Dream!
More info? Contact George Lake  319-334-6174


Establishing a Local Business Incubator

 Be it a tree or a business, if planted in your back yard, it tends to stay where planted.” Maureen Collins-Williams

There are three approaches to building a strong business presence which in turn leads to economically thriving communities. First and most importantly we must support our existing businesses.  Secondly we can encourage disparate established companies to establish extensions of their businesses in our communities.  Finally, we can encourage and support those entrepreneurs among us to create new start-up businesses in their hometowns in Buchanan County. Companies like Collins Radio, Microsoft, Apple, Geater Machining and Triangle Plastics were all started by individuals who pursued a dream. We need to support the dreamers amongst us as we will benefit from their successes.
Let’s grow our own businesses! The Independence Area Chamber and the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC) are pursuing the possibility of establishing a business incubator in the 2nd floor of the Chamber building.  The goal of any successful incubator is to provide support as entrepreneurs wrestle with the trials of start-up. Challenges facing new business startups include finances, access to professional guidance and being immersed in an atmosphere that encourages creative processes.  The Chamber and BCEDC boards of directors have taken the 1st step needed to establish a business incubator that provides an environment where local entrepreneurs can successfully launch their business.
The Chamber and the BCEDC have hired Martin-Gardner Architecture (MGA) from Strawberry Point and Marion to conduct a study to determine feasibility and costs of converting the 2nd story loft into an incubator. MGA CEO Dave Martin is an Independence native and he’s pleased to be able to work on a project in his hometown.  BDEDC Director George Lake stated, “MGA is one of the most experienced architectural firms in the state when it comes to historic restoration of commercial business districts. Plus, Dave Martin still maintains a home locally and feels a strong personal connection with the project. We are lucky to be working with a firm like MGA.”
Chamber Director Alissa Westphal said, “The last time that the 2nd floor was used as apartments was in 1980 and it was a bit messy. Chamber volunteers have pretty much gutted the 2nd floor of their building and it’s neat to see character of the space. Laying bare the bones of the loft enables us to more easily envision the possibilities of creating a business incubator.”
To help determine a business model for the potential incubator, Chamber and BCEDC board members and staff visited three existing business incubators in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The two local organizations will work with MG Architecture to determine a floor plan and subsequent project costs.  Once additional project information is gathered, an informed decision can be made on how to proceed.
For additional information, contact Chamber Director Alissa Westphal 319-334-7178 or BCEDC Director George Lake 319-334-7497.
Buchanan County Achieves Skilled Iowa Community Status
Buchanan County, IA – Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) Director Beth Townsend, announced that Buchanan County has achieved Skilled Iowa Community status by meeting the metrics for both business commitments and workforce certifications.
“When I travel around Iowa, employers consistently describe their dire need for workers,” said IWD Director Beth Townsend. “This designation will go a long way in attracting and retaining a strong workforce, that’s essential for companies to grow and innovate in Buchanan County.”
BCEDC Director George Lake explained that the Skilled Iowa, NCR program is beneficial to those seeking employment as well as businesses. “For workers the Certificate will highlight their strengths in math, reading comprehension and problem solving.  Having the Certificate will help folks land a good job! Businesses can ask job applicants to present a NCR Certificate and they will immediately have an understanding of the skill levels of a potential employee.  The Skilled Iowa NCR Certificate will help businesses optimally connect new hires with the position to be filled.”
The Skilled Iowa Initiative has notable benefits for local economic development efforts. Skilled Iowa aims to assist local economies in boosting the qualifications of their local workers and as a result, making the community a more attractive place for new and existing businesses. The initiative encourages workers and students to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), as well as encouraging employers to recognize the certificate in the hiring process.
In order to become a Skilled Iowa Community, Buchanan County had to have:
*  5 percent of the local workforce become NCRC certified
*  20 percent of workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits or other specified services become NCRC certified
*  10 percent of the local employers (who represent 20 percent of the total workforce) commit to supporting the Skilled Iowa Initiative in their hiring process
Skilled Iowa urges all communities in the state to visit to learn more about this economic growth opportunity and about making the commitment to become a Skilled Iowa Community.  Contact BCEDC Director, George Lake, to learn how Skilled Iowa can benefit you and/or your business. 319-334-7497
New Year's Resolution:
Start New or Grow Your Business
Many existing Buchanan County businesses and new start-ups, have met with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)r in the BCEDC offices over the past year. Isn’t it time you took the first step to building your business?
Are you thinking about starting or expanding a business, but you’re not sure about how to proceed?  Professionals from the UNI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will be operating out The Buchanan County Economic Development (BCEDC) offices on the 3rd Monday of each month.
The SBDC will next visit the BCEDC offices, 112 1st St. Independence, on Monday, January 18. Contact BCEDC Director George Lake at 319-334-7497 to set an appointment to meet with the SBDC.
It's time to take the first step....
When Your Employee Doesn’t Take Feedback
By: Deborah Grayson Riegel
From the Harvard Business Review Online: November 6, 2015
In my decade as a leadership coach, I have heard countless versions of the same concern from my clients — committed leaders who understand the importance of giving actionable feedback to their team members – who find themselves thwarted when the person receiving it acts out, shuts down, or fails to follow through on promises. These managers can give feedback but can’t make their people take it. Or can they?
“I need to give Tom feedback on his communication skills, but every time I try, he gets defensive.”
“Whenever I schedule a performance review with Ellen, she calls in sick.”
“Jamie nods her head when I tell her how to think more strategically. She ‘yeses’ me to death and promises she’ll do better. But then nothing changes.”

My advice to leaders in these situations is to take a break from giving other performance-related feedback. Instead, start giving feedback on how the employee receives feedback. After all, in today’s fast-changing workplace, a commitment to improvement and growth is just as critical a competency as strategic thinking, communication and collaboration. It should be its own topic of conversation, addressed when you have enough evidence to assume a pattern and when both you and your colleague have adequate time and energy to tackle it. Here’s how to approach the discussion and its aftermath:

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The Buchanan County Economic Development Commission (BCEDC)
P.O. Box 109
Independence, IA  50644

Street address: 112 1st St. East, Independence,  IA  50644

Contact: George Lake, Executive Director

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