By LAURA CARRELL
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — It may have been a cold, windy morning, but the groundbreaking at the Indian Hills Regional Business Incubator at the college’s north campus Friday was designed to the light the fire underneath the local economy.
Serving entrepreneurs of IHCC’s 10-county area, the incubator will be both a physical location for small businesses to grow and a resource for support services, programs and other business information necessary to thrive in the marketplace.
Many city, regional, state and national officials were on hand for the groundbreaking, and the focus was on the impact the incubator will have on the local economy.
Several private and public organizations have taken an interest in the project, as they see the benefits it will have on the area in the long term. Five financial partners have been on board from the beginning: the federal Economic Development Administration, the Legacy Foundation, the Wapello County Supervisors, the Ottumwa Rotary Club and Indian Hills Community College.
A representative from each one echoed the importance of a business incubator in the community and the opportunity this would be for the area’s future.
“This is going to be a catalyst for us. We’ll put your dollars to good use and move this forward,” said Tom Rubel, on behalf of IHCC.
The guest speaker of the event was U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who spoke of both the “nonsense in Washington, D.C.,” and the need to find some solutions to the downturn in the state’s economy.
“Two-thirds of jobs across Iowa are small businesses. There are some very important large businesses in the region, but (the incubator) is really key in many ways to getting the state back on its feet,” Loebsack said.
While in the state, he said he plans to visit the town squares and talk to small-business owners, finding out how things are going or not going.
“I need to find out what we in government can do to get the economy back on its feet,” he explained. “This incubator is an investment, an estimated 450 jobs over the next few years. Small businesses can get incubated right here. Folks at the local level can make a difference.”