Iowa City named Iowa Small Business Community of the Year

The city recently received the 2023 award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Dimia Burrell

The Pedestrian Mall walkway is seen in Iowa City on Monday, March 14, 2022.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

Iowa City was awarded the 2023 Iowa Small Business Community of the Year by the U.S. Business Administration Iowa Small Business Administration.

According to a release from the Small Business Administration, Iowa City was selected because of its commitment to providing opportunities for local businesses to start and flourish.

District Director of the administration’s Iowa District Office Jayne Armstrong wrote in the release that Iowa City’s push to include diversity, equity, and inclusion in its small businesses also contributed to the decision to give the city this award.

Additionally, Iowa City’s Better Together 2030 program showed the administration that Iowa City is committed to improving the area’s economy.

“Spearheaded by the Iowa City Area Business Partnership, the Iowa City Area Development Group, Think Iowa City and the Iowa City Downtown District, Better Together 2030 builds upon the area’s recovery efforts after COVID-19 to create a more robust economy in which small businesses can thrive,” Armstrong wrote.

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Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague stated in the release that this award shows that the city’s efforts to support local businesses have not gone unnoticed.

“Iowa City is delighted to receive this honor from the Small Business Administration, which affirms what we have been focused on for years — supporting our awesome and amazing business community,” Teague wrote.

Elizabeth Hubing, director of entrepreneurship and community engagement at the Iowa City Area Development Group, said in an interview with The Daily Iowan that the small business community in Iowa City is unique because of its connection.

“I think oftentimes in a community, there can be a sense of competitiveness between small businesses,” Hubing said. “But within our local community, I think that we realize we’re stronger when we work together and support one another.”

Think Iowa City Vice President of Public Affairs Nick Pfeiffer told the DI this award shows that Iowa City is an attractive place for prospective employees, which is a good thing for the city.

“There’s a saying in our industry that if you build a place where people want to work, you’ll build a place where people want to live, and if you build a place where people want to live, you’ll build a place where people want to visit,” Pfeiffer said.

In an interview with the DI, President and CEO of the Iowa City Area Business Partnership Kim Casko praised Iowa City’s grant programs that offer financial support to local businesses and entrepreneurs.

A recent example of such a program is the city’s recent launch of an Inclusive Economic Development Program, which will use $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds to fund underestimated businesses and entrepreneurs in Iowa City.

Casko said local small businesses give back to the community in more ways than just creating jobs.

“Iowa City small businesses really provide their local economies with new jobs, products, services, revenue, destinations for tourists, charitable contributions to nonprofits,” Casko said. “But they also add uniqueness and vibrancy to a community.”

The official presentation of the award to the city will be held on May 13 at the Pepperwood Plaza, the release states. This will occur during the South of 6 Business District launch party from 2 to 5 p.m., and the public is invited to attend the launch party.