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Iowa Isn’t Ready for Economic Disruption

Despite enormous progress, we have more work to do to face the challenges of tomorrow’s economy.

Predicting the future is tough.

Here are some of the realities we’re facing:

Iowa Isn’t Building Enough Scaling Companies

The rate of startup growth in Iowa, which measures how much startups have grown by their fifth year, has been flat since the mid 1990s.

The last time we had a big rise in the rate of startup growth was when Johnny Carson still hosted The Tonight Show.

Our share of scale-ups — that’s companies that hit fifty employees by their tenth year — has been declining since the late eighties.

A sad, gradual decline.

High-growth company density — that’s the number of private businesses with $2 million or more in revenue and 20% or more in annual revenue growth — has been flat for ten years.

This has been flat for the entire era of the modern smartphone.

How are we doing in the Creative Corridor?

Ten Inc 5000 companies is not good enough. Source: NewBoCo analysis of data.

Another big problem? Our core regional industries are facing major disruption.

We need to build an economy that works for people now — and ten years from now.

Rising to new challenges

  • Our current companies need to learn how to become more innovative and resilient in order to adapt to our shifting economy.
  • We need to help our local companies become places whose innovation and culture attract talent nationwide.
  • In order for Iowa to lead the way in tech — or at least not fall behind — we need to have world-class technical education, starting as young as possible.
  • We need to invest in and support our entrepreneurial community to help our startups become the high growth companies that will change our region.



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Eric Engelmann

I build technology companies, invest in and mentor startups, and grow teams that can solve important problems in the world.