State data shows a record number of new businesses were launched in Iowa last year. Iowa law requires documents to be filed when a new business is formed in the state. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office manages that online portal for business filings.
“We’re seeing an upward trend. We have over 35,000 new businesses that were formed in 2021 alone and in the last three years it’s gone up, up and up,” Pate says. “And that’s in the middle of Covid and a downward economy.”
New business starts soared across the United States last year, to a record 5.4 million new business filings according to the Census Bureau. That’s a million more than 2020, which was also a record. Pate says as Iowa mirrors that upward trend, it shows creativity in the face of pandemic challenges.
“Many of them, maybe, they have taken the attitude: ‘Well, I may as well start a business right now of my own because my employer that I had before Covid is not going to let me work,’ so they have to come up with a different plan and so they’ve stepped up and started their own businesses,” Pate says. “I think there are many of those kind of stories.”
Iowa businesses must file initial forms of organization with the state, then confirm twice a year that the business is still active. There are more than 260,000 businesses operating in the state today.
“We don’t have the software that would give us a hard and firm number, but I can tell you just from the sampling I’ve looked at it’s pretty consistent, obviously, with where the population is,” Pate says. “I mean you’re going to see more filings, more businesses in the larger counties, but we have seen growth in all the counties.”
Just over 25,000 new businesses were started in Iowa in 2019. Nearly 27,000 launched in 2020 and then there was a 30% jump in 2021, to more than 35,000 new Iowa business starts last year.