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Build your dream

IGNITE series starts in Fort Dodge

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Keynote speaker Bill Adamowski spoke to about 25 people at the first IGNITE event called “Launch Your Entrepreneurial Spirit” Tuesday evening at Willow Ridge Golf Course.

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs” was the last bit of advice speaker Bill Adamowski shared with local entrepreneurs Tuesday evening.

Main Street Fort Dodge kicked off its IGNITE Entrepreneurial Series “Launch Your Entrepreneurial Spirit” at Willow Ridge Golf Course. Attendees enjoyed dinner and a presentation from keynote speaker, Adamowski.

Adamowski is the executive director of entrepreneurship, innovation, and human centered design at Drake University’s College of Business and Public Administration. He spoke to the audience of about 25 people about his past business ventures and then discussed lessons he has learned.

“I know I’m biased toward entrepreneurs, but they are the backbone of this country. That’s not just my opinion, that’s a fact,” he said. “True growth in any location is done by entrepreneurs.”

Adamowski explained that statistically, larger corporations are often hiring in mass amounts but at the same time, other corporations in the same areas might be laying off large numbers of employees.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Attendees of the first IGNITE Entrepreneur series socialize with fellow entrepreneurs before the event began Tuesday evening.

“The net growth of opportunities is created by entrepreneurs,” he said.

Adamowski told the room of current and potential business owners that they are “at the right time and in the right place to be an entrepreneur”. He shared data explaining why the Midwest is a more affordable and desirable area for startups as compared to expensive locations such as Silicon Valley in California.

“I lived out there, and the average home price in our county was $1.8 million. So when people think it’s expensive, those are the kinds of crazy numbers,” he said.

Adamowski said since moving back to the Des Moines area, the community of other professionals is more accessible.

“There’s brilliant people in Silicon Valley, absolutely,” he said. ”But the key is they don’t work for you. Because when you’re hiring, you don’t get to hire them because they’re starting their own company. So you have to pay a premium to get mediocre people to come work for you. What differentiates an entrepreneur ecosystem is collaboration. So if you can get your community to collaborate, you guys would have a huge advantage.”

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
President of Main Street Fort Dodge, Gabe Pettit, introduces the IGNITE program and shares the upcoming events in the series that will be held through the next few months.

Adamowski continued by saying entrepreneurs are the ones making differences in their towns. “Business owners work together to build the community,” he said.

He shared details of some business resources he is helping develop at Drake and discussed how similar resources could be developed and grown in Fort Dodge.

IGNITE will continue through June with many different events for the community to attend.

Dawn Larson, economic development specialist for the city of Fort Dodge, said the IGNITE program is just the beginning of resources they are hoping to offer local entrepreneurs.

“I think that the main opportunity here is for us to identify the hidden entrepreneurs within our community, but also to connect with the existing entrepreneurs to identify what we can do to help both of them continue to progress,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Michaela Frerichs
Afton Holt, local owner of Cornerpost Marketing in Fort Dodge, shares how she found her entrepreneurial spirit and started her business nearly 10 years ago.

President of Main Street Fort Dodge, Gabe Pettitt said they hope IGNITE will help create a base network to encourage, educate, and prepare local businesses.

“This series is for anyone thinking of opening a business, people with home based businesses, budding entrepreneurs and newly opened businesses and also established businesses entertaining expansion ideas,” he said.

Upcoming events in the series will include:

IGNITE Entrepreneurial Expo

4 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 20 in the Bioscience and Health Science Center at Iowa Central Community College.

This will be a resource fair for all businesses, with a series of speakers.

Smart Start Class

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 23, Iowa Works on the Iowa Central Community College campus.

This will be an education opportunity for businesses just getting started or people thinking about owning their own business.

IGNITE Vendor Fair and SPARK Your Business Contest

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 25 in the Opera House at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village. Businesses will be able to sell their products and ideas to the public during the vendor fair. Businesses can win $1,000 during the contest.

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