An accelerator for our region's growth

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: September 13 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 8:23 pm in
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Gazette Editorial Board

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Regional economic development for the overall good has been getting concentrated attention recently in our neck of the woods, re-dubbed Iowa’s Creative Corridor 19 months ago by the alliance of business, education and government entities driving regionalism. We, as previously stated, support the regionalism concept.

We also want to call out promising new ventures that, directly or indirectly, boost regionalism. And we see such promise in the startup accelerator program announced this week by two Cedar Rapids companies. Geonetric, building a new home in New Bohemia, will be the host. Its primary business is developing software and related services for health care organizations. ImOn Communications, which will provide fiber-optic access to the program, offers Internet, phone and cable TV services.

This new venture will not be the first “accelerator” in Cedar Rapids. The Entrepreneurial Development Center also qualifies for that term, but with significant differences:

l The Geonetric-ImOn model is focused on “very early stage start-ups, sometimes even before a viable market for a concept is identified,” Geonetric’s president and CEO, Eric Engelmann, told us. “We want to draw start-ups out of the woodwork that other might might not form.” The intense 90-day program, set to launch next summer, also provides seed money and is privately funded. Entrepreneurs will lead it, although “government will have a collaborative role,” he said. This type of accelerator is found in many cities nationwide, “but we didn’t have one around here and I wondered why not. It fills a hole we have to have to make this region nationally competitive.”

l The non-profit EDC, which has helped 600 clients and marked its 10th anniversary Thursday, provides services to budding businesses as well as established firms that, say, need help in transitioning, Christie Remley, marketing director said. It’s a public-private partnership. “We see us working in collaboration with the Geonetric-ImOn program,” Remley said. “We could work with those start-ups once they’re through that 90-day program.”

We like that “working together” tone, as well as the vision of nurturing the next great companies for our region.

l Comments: editorial@thegazette.com or (319) 398-8262

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