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Community Spotlight: A New Program for New Businesses

November 17, 2022 | Community Spotlight: A New Program for New Businesses | By: Lindsey Newland, Marketing and Business Specialist at Main Street Ottumwa | 

Lindsey Newland teaching a class about how to use Facebook. Photo courtesy of Main Street Ottumwa. 

After completing the Ready to Recruit program in November of 2021, it became clear that Main Street Ottumwa had work to do to fill vacancies and support entrepreneurship. Could a single course be the solution? Freddie Killough from the Marion Business Association in Marion, NC sure seemed to think so. His ‘Growing Your Own Entrepreneurs’ presentation at the 2022 Main Street Now Conference was exactly what Fred Zesiger, Director of Main Street Ottumwa, was looking for: a program that would train entrepreneurs on how to build their business on a solid foundation. He took the idea back to his team and they quickly got to work developing a framework using the syllabus and pointers shared by Freddie.

Fred’s dream of having a business fundamentals training to help address the revolving door of hobbyist businesses is finally coming true. The first Business Builder Academy launched September of 2022. It is an eight-class program designed to take attendees from idea to business plan in just four weeks. The topics covered include how to be a successful Entrepreneur, finance, business entity structure, marketing, taxes, accounting, and insurance. Recruiting community partners was not difficult. Nearly every expert that was approached jumped at the chance to help. Each speaker will be responsible to provide one hour of content within their field and one-half hour of question and answer. The remaining class time will be used to develop actionable steps specific to each new business and address soft skills such as customer service and business etiquette.
Ottumwa is fortunate to have a multitude of resources, including the Small Business Development Center at Indian Hills Community College as well as a Regional Entrepreneurship Center. When the local Score chapter moved to the Quad Cities, it left a gap in the market for Entrepreneurship support. This course aims to fill that gap and develop a pipeline of sustainable new businesses. The Academy will conclude with a Business Plan Pitch Contest in which five local judges will score a ten-minute-long presentation. The first-place winner will receive a $3,000 grant and a branding package valued at $1,500 from a local designer. The second-place winner will receive a $1,500 grant and the third-place winner will receive $500. Each grant will be a reimbursement for business expenses.

Many people will say that now is not a good time to start a business but that’s not true for all industries. Not only is it a good time to be an Entrepreneur, but it’s also always an excellent time to get started looking for the perfect business to fill the vacancies in your Downtown. For questions about Growing Entrepreneurs Marion, contact Freddie Killough at For questions about the Business Builder Academy at Main Street Ottumwa, contact Fred Zesiger at