The Ottumwa Courier

February 4, 2014

Rewarding vision

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — People who will take a risk, take advice and take action have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. And local economic development educators say they should be recognized.

Indian Hills Community College’s Regional Economic Advancement team is accepting nominations for their Third Annual Vision Awards. But what's the difference between a business owner and an entrepreneur?

"In some cases, there isn't a difference," said Ashley Moyer, the economic advancement associate coordinating the awards. "They're someone who starts a business, but you can also be very entrepreneurial in your thinking, very innovative. For the purpose of the awards, the entrepreneur would be a business owner who lives in our 10-county area."

An idea of what they're looking for in their 10-county coverage area could be inferred from last year's winners: Mitch Goudy of Fairfield, Student Entrepreneur of the Year; Holly Berndt at Wayne (Corydon) schools was the Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year; Josh Bear, owner of Kar Knuts in Derby was named Indian Hills Alumni Entrepreneur Award; Little Bake Shop in downtown Ottumwa won for New Business of the Year; and Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., Fairfield, received the Business of the Year award.

"In my opinion, entrepreneurs are the people who grow our economy," Moyer said.

In fact, her boss, Executive Dean Tom Rubel, often tells the public that far more local jobs come from businesses in Iowa than from giant, multi-national corporations building a new factory in town. That doesn't mean communities stop courting out-of-state businesses, they just can't afford to neglect the homegrown businesses.

"Entrepreneurs know it's OK to take a risk," Moyer said, "but the successful ones do their research, reach out to people who have expertise. You can take a smarter risk."

At some point, talking about the idea, even researching the idea, has to be finished.

"A lot of people have good ideas, but until you take action, you're [only] dreaming about things. When you take the step of implementing it, that's when you become an entrepreneur," she said.

Those who have been able to accomplish such a feat can be nominated online; Moyer said the process takes 10-15 minutes. The awards will be announced at an event on April 24. One thing they haven't announced yet, Moyer said, is the keynote speaker for the awards banquet; they have scheduled Terry Rich, who started a TV production company in Iowa and went on to became the CEO of Blank Park Zoo. In 2009, the governor appointed him to his current position: chief executive of the Iowa Lottery.

Nominations can be made online at The deadline for submitting nominations is March 31. For more information, contact

— News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark