Entrepreneurs develop new and improved products, services and technology which have the ability to change the way we live and work. Their ideas and innovations create new businesses, generate jobs and wealth in the community, improve the quality of life and overall standard of living, and contribute to a growing economy. For entrepreneurs to bring new ideas to life, they need a supportive culture with access to business and technical assistance, networking opportunities and capital resources.
Iowa’s West Coast Initiative (IWCI) understands the importance of creating a supportive culture and encouraging entrepreneurial activity to fuel economic growth. For IWCI to continue building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in northwest Iowa and take their efforts to the next level, the group has hired a full-time Entrepreneurial Community Navigator. This new position will be funded for two years through a grant IWCI received from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Entrepreneurial Investment Awards Program.
Stacy Orndorff, a local community builder and entrepreneur herself, has been selected for the Entrepreneurial Community Navigator position and she hit the ground running in early August. Stacy will continue to cultivate the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging with entrepreneurs, connecting them to available resources and coordinating regular programming and events. Continue reading to learn more about Stacy!
Why you are a good fit for this position?
I am passionate about helping people make their business and innovative ideas become a reality. I am frequently approached by people who desperately want to start their own business or businesses in their early stages seeking help with growth strategies, customer acquisition, etc. I enjoy encouraging them, connecting them with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and resources. I have started multiple businesses in the past and finally found myself succeeding with Heartland Coffee & Nosh, so I’ve been on many sides of business ownerships including successes and failures and feel that I can relate and also provide valuable insight to other entrepreneurs. Additionally, I created a program for Jr./Sr. High School to inspire entrepreneurship and was able to pilot this program successfully for 2 years in my hometown school district. I am excited to bring this program to other school districts and build on the college-level program that is already in place.
How have you been involved in the entrepreneurial community in the past?
I started getting involved 4 years ago by attending First Friday Coffee at Springboard Coworking, participating in Launch Week, and completing Venture School. With my business, I have been able to connect with other entrepreneurs by participating in events sponsored by SCGO, IWCI, Downtown Partners, and the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. I also earned a spot in the Dream Big Grow Here contest and won first place at the final competition. I have also utilized the services provided by the Small Business Development Center. All these things provide such an important support system for entrepreneurs and I’m excited to connect others to all of these great resources.
What appealed to you most about this role?
Honestly, everything listed in the job description was like reading my off-season resume. I have been doing all these things for fun and in my spare time and without pay. To be able to live out my passion for helping other entrepreneurs AND get paid for it is a dream come true.
What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
First, I want to give hope to those who feel like starting their own business is impossible and give encouragement to current business owners who feel overwhelmed or alone by building an inclusive community of entrepreneurs. Second, I want to inspire youth and young adults to pursue entrepreneurship as a career opportunity. Last, I want to develop and recruit a network of necessary support professionals for entrepreneurs including specialized legal counsel, finance professionals, venture capitalists, angel investors, and IT professionals.
What ideas do you have to make our regional entrepreneurial community better?
I am excited to build on what has already been put in place by all of the organizations in the area and multiply it by 10x. Fully executing some of those things that were put in place by those working in other capacities I will be able to devote more time. I am excited to build on Launch Week and College Start-Up Games, find new ways to connect entrepreneurs together, and bring start-up competitions to middle and high schools, just to name a few. I’m never short on ideas, so after I’ve had time to assess the needs of the community, I will definitely hit the ground running!
What initiatives will you take on to increase engagement and grow our entrepreneurial community?
I plan to spend a lot of time building relationships with entrepreneurs, listening to the needs they have, drawing them out of the woodwork, and giving them a place to belong. I plan to create regular opportunities for entrepreneurs to gather, network, and learn from each other. As I implement the entrepreneurship efforts in local schools, I will be tapping into community leaders and local business owners to create local entrepreneurial systems throughout the region. I also look forward to reaching beyond the region to pull in experts and motivators to grow and inspire our entrepreneurial community.
How can people contact you?
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 712-279-6286. I look forward to connecting with you!
Iowa’s West Coast Initiative (IWCI) is a collaboration between the economic development organizations in Plymouth, Monona and Woodbury counties, and includes the following organizations: City of Sioux City, Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council, Siouxland Economic Development Corporation, The Siouxland Initiative, Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation, Woodbury County, and Monona County. Learn more about IWCI at www.IAWestCoast.com.