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Community Partners program continues to grow

From tech education to supporting entrepreneurs, NewBoCo’s work has drawn plenty of interest across the state. So it’s only natural that other communities would want to learn more about it. 

That’s where the Community Partners program comes in. 

“The visibility of  NewBoCo across the state has raised a lot of interest,” said Alex Taylor, Managing Director of ISA Services. “People are coming to see what we’re doing. And they’re excited. So it made sense for NewBoCo to start looking at ways that we could partner with those communities.” 

The Community Partners program got its start two years ago, when NewBoCo invited several dozen city and economic leaders from across the state to chat about needs in their communities. 

They quickly honed in on a universal need to build an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and helps them grow. 

‘Bringing an entrepreneurial vibe’

For Mount Pleasant – the first community to sign on with NewBoCo’s Community Partners program – the gaps are primarily tech education and access to startup capital.  

Ray Vens is the Director of Traction Steam Communications, a co-working and entrepreneurial center in Mount Pleasant. Vens says he is excited about the partnership with NewBoCo.  

“Filling in these gaps will help communities like Mount Pleasant and Fairfield to stay competitive, attract employers, and build new businesses from the ground up,” he said. 

Kellen Gracey is a tech professional who lives in Mount Pleasant but works remotely for GoDaddy. For him, his town’s partnership with NewBoCo is more than economic. It is cultural. 

“NewBoCo is bringing an entrepreneurial vibe to Mount Pleasant,” he says. “There is a feeling of growth and innovation that has been lost in recent decades. This is exactly what my generation is looking for in a community.” 

Taking Shape

Each community partnership takes place  around a foundation of established NewBoCo programming. Informed by NewBoCo’s values and experiences, that programming addresses four focus areas that are critical to a community’s success:

  • Entrepreneurship: programs providing mentorship, eco-system builders, and access to capital for entrepreneurs with businesses of a variety of industries and sizes
    • Program examples: Iowa Startup Accelerator Services, networking events, educational programming, Kiva Iowa, and our ISA Ventures partnership
  • Tech Education: programs providing technical skill training for adults, youth, and teachers
    • Program examples: DeltaV Code School, CoderDojo, and K-12 computer science professional development
  • NewBoCo Studios: access to software and services that would not otherwise be accessible to startup or small businesses
    • Services examples: software development, digital marketing services, and branding and graphic design

Community partners provide unique access, insights, and resources, while NewBoCo provides programming frameworks and ongoing analysis and support. 

“We believe that this holistic, yet localized approach to entrepreneurial ecosystem development is necessary for greater equity, innovation, and prosperity in entrepreneurship in Iowa,” said Mike Heaton, NewBoCo’s former Director of Development. 

Anthony Betters, Jr. serves as NewBoCo’s Community Engagement Manager, working regularly with each community partner. He’s thrilled about the direction the now two-year-old program is going. 

“We pride ourselves on the big ideas here in Iowa,” Betters said. “And community partnership is definitely one of those huge ideas that we can see expanding further and further and further.”


Alex Taylor chats more about NewBoCo’s community partnerships in this episode of the Iowa Innovation Podcast.

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