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An Early Helping Hand
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The Iowa City area is already a place receptive to new businesses and entrepreneurship. The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce is giving some businesses a helping hand that has been making all the difference over the past two years, for businesses operating for less than 11 months.
When starting a business, money can be tight. For small start ups, just a little bit of cash, less than $500, can make the difference between success and failure.
When John Krakauer and his Co-Founders started Sculpt, their outlook was a lot different than it is today.
"We were thinking really small when we started, we were thinking local small businesses are a perfect way to start learning about brands and connecting them to a base that we know really well," said Krakauer.
A little more than two years later, they have a wall full of clients who they help with social media services, appealing to a wide range of people.
It's partially thinks to money provided by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce.
"I was looking for a way to bridge that gap, about how can we serve these young people legitimately as chamber members but then not ask too much when the resources can be very very slim," said Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nancy Quellhorst.
The answer is a scholarship that covers 75% of the Chamber's $300 annual membership fee for each of two years. The total amount of just $450 that pollinates the local economy in a way that no other nearby Chamber of Commerce does.
"The Chamber has given us contacts and resources that we wouldn't have been able to receive otherwise," said Big Cat COO Jens Hauser.
"Certainly by comparing ourselves to the more established businesses, it's given us a good idea of what we need to do to have an infrastructure that will work in any case," said Big Cat Chief Programmer Grant Lindburg.
Anne Curbow started a dog-walking business as a hobby while she was a Sophomore at the University of Iowa. Now, she has four to six seasonal employees.
"They put us on their website, they refer us to people, they're a great resource especially for someone who didn't plan to have a business," said Curbow.
The Chamber has rolling enrollment for the scholarships, allowing businesses to get involved at any time of the year.