The Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce, Ankeny Economic Development Corporation, City of Ankeny, several regional partners, including Des Moines Area Community College, University of Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Ankeny Community School District, Small Business Development Center of Iowa, consultants, and dozens of local business leaders, many of who are entrepreneurs and small business owners, all work closely together to create a holistic and supportive small business support environment in Ankeny. Following is a list and brief description of the active initiatives and programs available to small business and entrepreneurs in Ankeny:
The Ankeny Alliance is a partnership between the Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce, Ankeny Economic Development Corporation, and City of Ankeny. This alliance was formed to ensure all local economic development efforts were coordinated and aligned to best serve the needs of small businesses in Ankeny. In addition to coordinated daily economic development efforts, the Alliance, works on the following initiatives:
o Ankeny Seed Capital – This group of investors review business plans and listen to pitches from area entrepreneurs seeking equity investments in their business. They meet quarterly. Businesses seeking seed capital and interested investors can get more information by contacting Ankeny Economic Development Corporation at 515-964-0747.
o Cultivation Corridor – Representatives of the Ankeny Alliance engage in the work of the Cultivation Corridor and help best position Ankeny and local businesses to benefit from Cultivation Corridor related initiatives and projects.
o Hub – Existing Ankeny businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups (clients) seeking mentor assistance with their business operations and growth are invited to contact the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce. An experienced business leader will connect the client with an appropriate mentor. Business-experienced individuals will be available as mentors on a scheduled basis, at no cost for a consultation. The mentors’ business areas represented, but not limited to, include: marketing, legal, finance, accounting/bookkeeping, insurance, real estate/ facilities, business plans and regulatory. Clients may contact the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce by phone at 515-964-0685.
o Business Retention –Business retention and expansion efforts are led by a team of individuals representing local and regional economic development partners, as well as industry professionals who can assist with many of the challenges Ankeny businesses are facing. If you are interested in scheduling a business retention visit with a member of the committee, contact the City of Ankeny at 515-965-6430. The business retention committee also publishes a yearly report that can be found here.
o Workforce Development – The mission of Ankeny Workforce Development is to strengthen the community by creating initiatives that bridge the gap between businesses and a talented workforce. To build the needed bridge leaders from area employers, community school districts and area colleges work together to increase awareness of college and career options for students at all levels.
Business Office Hours
The Chamber’s Business Climate Committee hosts quarterly Office Hours, where small business owners in specialized fields such as accounting, marketing, and law volunteer their time to either present to small business owners on pertinent topics related to running a small business or sit down one-on-one with small business owners to offer advice on how to overcome obstacles to growing their business. Quarterly meetings typically attract 15 or more small business owners.
The Ankeny Economic Development Corporation hosts monthly, informal gatherings of potential, and experienced entrepreneurs at a local brewery. Participants discuss their ideas, their challenges, and share advice about starting and running a small business. The intent is to simply bring like-minded individuals together to help build their network of mentors and advisors who can help entrepreneurs begin and operate a successful small business.
Business Advisory Group
This group convenes as needed to assist small business owners who are seeking help with financing their business. The group consists of experienced local finance professionals who provide honest, objective advice on the range of financing options available to small business owners and different ways to structure businesses and financing.
Each of the three organizations in the Ankeny Alliance funded a scholarship to support one local team to participate in the University of Iowa’s Venture School Program. This program is designed to help entrepreneurs vet their idea in a team setting and identify customers to determine if they should move their idea forward. The first class begins in early 2016.
Workforce Development Series
For the last several years, the City of Ankeny and Ankeny Economic Development Corporation have partnered with local businesses and school district leaders to offer Ankeny teachers a paid internship to work and learn in local businesses. This program is designed to provide educators first hand experiences in various workplace settings, including offices, manufacturing floors, and laboratories, so they can apply what they have learned in the classroom and better prepare students for 21st century employment. In previous years, students were also bused to various businesses around the community so they too could experience firsthand how local businesses operate and hear directly from employers what skills they are looking for in new hires.
Home Base Iowa
Ankeny is proud to be a Home Base Iowa community. Over 30 local employers have pledged to hire veterans at all skill levels and several local businesses offer discounts and services to veterans seeking employment in Ankeny or moving to Ankeny. If you are a veteran and would like to learn more about this program contact the City of Ankeny.
Small Business Development Center of Iowa
The local office of the Small Business Development Center currently holds office hours once each month at the Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce office. Bringing the services the SBDC provides to entrepreneurs to the community makes it easier for busy entrepreneurs to get the assistance they may need to help make their business a success.
In 2015, the City contracted with a retail consultant to provide comprehensive demographic, economic, and drive time data covering both the City and the retail trade area. This data was shared with the business community and is available on the City’s website. Small business owners have access to all the data on the City’s website and have been encouraged to use the information to help develop business plans, market their businesses, and assist with making locational decisions.
For a printable brochure including the programs listed here, please click here.