By Grayson Schmidt, Staff Writer,

In a recent ranking by the community research resource site, Ames was ranked eighth out of the top 50 cities for entrepreneurs in 2017. And given the close relationship between Iowa State University and the companies at the ISU Research Park, Director Steven Carter said the ranking does not surprise him.

“It is somewhat gratifying to see outsiders recognize the community, and activities within the community that are worthy of attention,” Carter said.

According to Livability, the 50 cities had to be able to support start-ups and have a community of similarly-driven people. The list looked for cities with high levels of SBA loans, creative class workers, broadband technology and transportation infrastructure to support new businesses. In addition to that criteria, Livability also analyzed cities that had low levels of unemployment and economic inequality, diverse demographics and affordable housing, as well as areas with plenty to do at night with cultural and entertainment options.

Eight of the top 10 happen to be cities with major universities, which Carter said is the biggest reason for Ames to be ranked so high.

“The university is a huge asset,” Carter said. “The culture of Iowa State encourages entrepreneurial activity.”

In addition to the university programs, Carter said having major companies such as Workiva, NewLink Genetics, and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica at the ISU Research Park not only provides students with internship opportunities and the skills necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur, but also show students what can be accomplished in Ames.

“(Having these companies) is essential,” Carter said. “Those are companies that largely started here, and young folks came here, worked as interns, some stayed as employees, and again it’s all part of creating that entrepreneurial mindset.”

This is not the first list Ames has made of this type, either. In the past Ames has been on lists for lowest unemployment rate, best cities to make a living, and best American cities to get a job, and all of those are why ISU Senior and Entrepreneur Club President Brendon Geils thinks Ames deserves to be on this list.

“All the rankings that Ames has gotten within the past few years kind of tie into what would promote entrepreneurship,” Geils said. “With an atmosphere of people being able to get jobs, being able to sustain their jobs they can maybe take a little more risk in starting their own businesses.”

Part of creating that atmosphere, Geils said is credited to like-minded people all encouraging and promoting start-ups. The electrical engineering major said he has interned for various start-ups around the country (and actually has a start-up of his own that we wants to pursue after he graduates), and after spending time on the East Coast, he said that Ames, and the entire Midwest, has an environment in which he said people want to see others succeed.

“Every place I went, I always felt that the Midwest, and the start-ups and businesses that were there, were more realistic,” Geils said. “The start-up community in the Midwest doesn’t get much exposure — I don’t know why — but when you do tell people about it, they’re kind of shocked at how much we can do with our communities.”

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