OTTUMWA — A local organization focused on giving new businesses a leg up is transforming itself with a younger image.
The south-central Iowa chapter of SCORE, formally known as the Service Corps Of Retired Executives, has existed in Ottumwa since 1977, finding new leadership in the last two years. Gordon Aistrope now chairs the organization and is "putting a different spin on it," said Megan Framke, Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation initiative manager. SCORE functions as the volunteer counseling arm of the U.S. Small Business Administration and gives business owners advice throughout the life of their business.
"The first national meeting I went to I only heard a bunch of old people like myself talking," Aistrope said. "We need to recruit young people."
Today, approximately one-third of Ottumwa's SCORE board is comprised of those under age 50, including Kelly Gale and Ashley Moyer, coordinators of Regional Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation (RELI) at Indian Hills; Bryan Ziegler, director of the Small Business Development Center at Indian Hills; and more.
"They bring some really dynamic things," he said. "If you were to ask me about Facebook or Twitter — I don't know, and I'm not going to know. So let's bring some people in who have that experience. Social media is going to be a big thing with new businesses."
Framke is excited that Aistrope is willing to work with a younger generation.
"He's pulling up a chair for them, giving them the chance to prove what they preach," she said.
Housing SCORE in the offices of OEDC and the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce is a natural fit, Framke said. The SCORE team used to be located on the Indian Hills campus, where it didn't have much visibility.
"If someone comes in wanting to start a new business, I can refer them to Gordon and the SCORE team to set up a business plan," she said.