The director of the University of Northern Iowa’s regional business center says development strategies are changing. Maureen Collins-Williams says few economic development professionals are focusing much on attracting big new companies to their towns. Instead, they’re focusing on helping existing businesses expand or entrepreneurs start a small business. In the past decade, three out of four new jobs in the U-S have been in small businesses. “Entrepreneurship in other parts of the country has been a very strong strategy for diversifying local economies, creating new economic change and keeping companies that we launch or provide services to in our local communities,” Collins-Williams says. She acknowledges that nationally 65 percent of all new businesses fail in the first three years, but she says there’s only a five percent failure rate among businesses that get help from a business development center like the one at UNI.
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