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Find Your Recipe for Success in Ames, IA

Entrepreneurs in Ames and the surrounding communities can thrive, thanks to stellar support and bountiful resources.

By Heather Cherry on May 15, 2023

Adam Schonert of Schonert’s Patisserie in Ames, IA
Dan McClanahan

The business climate in the Ames MSA has never been more favorable. Companies operating here benefit from a business-friendly state government, technology transfer from world-renowned research institutions, a skilled and productive workforce, and a centralized geographic location.

These are only some of the reasons why the region has become home to an abundance of young, creative entrepreneurs.

Robust Resources

There are an abundance of resources available to entrepreneurs in Ames and the surrounding communities. The region bolsters startups of all size, with the support of launching pads like Startup Ames, Ames Chamber of Commerce, Iowa State University’s Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and the Iowa Small Business Development Center.

“There is abundant opportunity for entrepreneurs to leverage resources and grow their business,” says Adam Schonert, owner and founder of Schonert’s Patisserie. “I didn’t pick Ames – Ames picked me. I came initially to attend Iowa State University, and now I’m graduating with a business here. If I started somewhere else, I don’t think I’d be where I am.”

Because of the proximity to top-notch colleges and universities, local employers have access to a pool of talent pursuing a wide range of career paths.

“Since Ames is a college town, many students are looking for a job. This makes it easy to find quality employees compared to other places. That has helped us stay in business,” says Lu Li, co-owner of Wasabi, a sushi restaurant in Ames.

Schonert’s Patisserie in Ames, IA

“I didn’t pick Ames – Ames picked me. … If I started somewhere else, I don’t think I’d be where I am.”

Adam Schonert

Stacking Hands

As a growing region, the Ames MSA continues to focus on building strong communities filled with opportunities for all.

“The people in Ames are diverse and kind. They’re open to trying new things and very supportive of locally owned businesses,” Li says. “Ames is a community where people appreciate a good product and service. If you’re offering a good product and service, the community will tell their friends and family, and the business will grow.”

Schonert credits community support for his business growth.

“My business is based on creating value and serving our clients,” Schonert says. “One of our first clients was the dean’s office where I was attending school. That helped us get started, and we have grown from word of mouth. Now, 90% of what we do is for businesses. I can’t quite imagine making the small steps I’ve been consistently able to make without the local community.”

The same is true for Stacy Negrete, owner of Oak Lane Candle Co. Her business started as an adoption fundraiser but quickly evolved into something beyond her imagination.

To support her pending adoption, Negrete began making candles, and within a couple of hours of opening her Etsy shop, she received way more orders than she expected.

“After we completed the adoption, the need for the money was gone, but people kept asking me about the candles,” Negrete says. “I tried the local farmers market, which was great, and later bought our building. We liked Ames and decided to stay here because the community is important to us. Ames is a bigger town with plenty of amenities, but at the same time, it has a small-town community feel. All the small businesses on Main Street support you and your customers.”

A strong economy, four-season recreation, genuinely friendly neighbors, and vibrant energy from students and researchers at Iowa State University combine to make the Ames MSA one of the best places to live and grow your business in the state.

Copper Spaces in Nevada, IA
Copper Spaces

Wide-Open Spaces

Evie Peterson, an entrepreneur who owns six businesses in the city of Nevada with her husband, Seth, has opened the Copper Spaces incubator. Located on the second floor of a two-story historic 1880s building on Sixth Street in downtown Nevada, Copper Spaces offers entrepreneurs space to work on their ideas and products and establish their businesses.

The spacious facility features meeting rooms, comfortable workstations and flex space for networking opportunities. The first floor of the building features the event venue Gatherings, which can be rented for weddings, graduations, parties, corporate events and more. The Petersons also own Gatherings.

The Petersons say they wanted to establish an office space that doesn’t quite feel like an office, but still offers important amenities like high-speed internet, printers, a kitchen, parking, security, projectors, office supplies and coffee.

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