Source: Back to Business Iowa, by Brian Tapp, Food and Enterprise Development Program,

The Iowa State University Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations supports startups, existing businesses statewide during COVID-19 and beyond

AMES, Iowa – Market disruptions like the ones caused by COVID-19 can challenge existing businesses. But they can also provide opportunities for nimble companies to pivot and address change creatively. And market volatility can open doors for visionary entrepreneurs.

In Iowa, both established and startup companies can access a wide variety of expert business and technical support from the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations (EDIR) at Iowa State University.

David Spalding

The most recent Back to Business Iowa podcast episode features David Spalding, Raisbeck Endowed Dean of the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business at Iowa State. Dean Spalding is also serving as interim vice president for EDIR. Listen to the episode at

Spalding and host Steve Adams discuss units within EDIR that are available to help grow and support Iowa businesses, including America’s SBDC Iowa and the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS). Also highlighted are programs that support student, staff, faculty, and community members’ entrepreneurial business ventures, such as those within the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and ISU Startup Factory, as well as services and resources provided by Iowa State University Research Foundation, Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer and ISU Research Park.

Spalding explains, as a top land-grant university, Iowa State is at the forefront of providing critical and cutting-edge education, research and extension programs that support economic growth in the state.

“We’ve had a strong impact here in the state,” Spalding said. “There was a study done last year conducted by the Board of Regents that showed that Iowa State added $3.4 billion a year to the economy of the great state of Iowa. That $3.4 billion impact supports almost 43,000 jobs in the state of Iowa — more than 2% of the total jobs in the state of Iowa are supported [through Iowa State’s efforts].” He added that during the most recent five-year period there is data for, surveys indicate 13,700 different Iowa companies have benefited from the support offered by SBDC and CIRAS.

Especially with the work they do with businesses across the state, staff at SBDC and CIRAS have worked long hours during the pandemic helping companies address safety issues and market changes, Spalding said. For example,  State Director America’s SBDC Iowa Lisa Shimkat made a timely connection between ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and S&B Farms Distillery near Bancroft. Staff at the college were running out of hand sanitizer, so S&B produced 30 gallons of it at their small facility to help tide them over. In addition, CIRAS has worked with many Iowa manufacturers to pivot to provide direct aid to health care by switching their output to personal protective equipment when supplies were scarce.

“It’s been all hands on deck at EDIR since COVID impacted Iowa,” Spalding said.

Listen to more Back to Business Iowa episodes here. Topics range from COVID-19 reopening guidelines to business basics and resources. The series is a collaboration among ISU Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development and Community and Economic Development Programs, and Iowa Small Business Development Centers.


Brian Tapp, Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program,, (515) 294-4417