MUSCATINE, Iowa–When an entrepreneur wants to start a business, inspiration for it may come easily, but finding the information and support to get it going may prove harder. For two years, the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry has worked to gather together all the tools and resources new business owners need to thrive in one place. With that goal in mind, they created the #MakeitMuscatine Startup Grant in 2020 to provide entrepreneurs with $1,000 to help fund initial expenses. In 2021, they introduced the SmartStart Dashboard, an interactive online resource to walk people through the steps of opening a business and to connect them with people and information that will make their journey easier. This month, the Chamber launched Startup Muscatine, a new Facebook page to share insights into starting a business as well as new and existing support opportunities for growing businesses. Director of Business Services and Advocacy Hannah Howard outlined, “the goal of Startup Muscatine is to seed, build, and grow entrepreneurs from all walks of life and companies of all sizes in the greater Muscatine area by developing a set of tangible tools and resources.”
Though only in its infancy, Startup Muscatine has already begun generating resources for budding business owners. Ahead of the April 18 tax deadline, Startup Muscatine released a video offering advice on filing small business taxes created in partnership with Joel Young, director of the Eastern Iowa Community College Small Business Development Center; the Kauffman Foundation; and the Return to Better Institute. “Taxes are one of the biggest challenges and stress points for small business owners.,” Howard acknowledged: “This video did a great job of walking small business owners through the aspects of the tax system that they need to be aware of as they set up their business and prepare their taxes. It’s the kind of resource you bookmark and go back to again and again.”
In the future, Startup Muscatine plans to post additional videos and resources covering popular topics such as creating branding, writing a marketing strategy, effectively using social media, developing a business model, determining product market fit, managing finances, integrating ecommerce, and many others. Additionally, Startup Muscatine will introduce entrepreneurs to resources already available to them in the community, such as the #MakeitMuscatine Startup Grant and microloan programs, the Chamber’s monthly entrepreneur mixers, Eastern Iowa Community College’s Small Business Development Center, and SCORE, which offers free small business mentoring from local volunteers with experience in the field.
A powerful tool for connecting small business owners to the tools they need to thrive, Howard advises anyone thinking about starting a business or who has a young business to check out Startup Muscatine and see how it provides, “a place to go for information to grow and support your business, a place to ask questions, a place to build the small business community of the greater Muscatine area.”
If you would like more information to educate yourself about founding or growing a small business, you may check out Startup Muscatine on Facebook. If you have additional questions or a suggestion for a topic to feature, you may call Howard at 563-263-8895 or send a Facebook Message directly to the page.