3 questions with Terry Branstad ... about the state's technology start-up scene
Friday, October 05, 2012 7:00 AM
Gov. Terry Branstad encouraged area entrepreneurs last week to call him if they ran into impediments facing their small business.
Branstad spoke to a group of 30 to 40 entrepreneurs in an event at StartupCity Des Moines on Sept. 25, one day after he hosted a Midwest governors meeting on Midwest entrepreneurial spirit.
“We are sincerely committed to this, and we’re trying to devote a significant share of our time every day to economic development, and we see that an important part of that is the entrepreneur start-up businesses,” Branstad told the StartupCity crowd.
The Business Record spoke with Branstad after the Startup-City event to ask him what Iowa is doing to help entrepreneurs.
- Kyle Oppenhuizen
What is the government’s role in helping entrepreneurs?
Identify the barriers. Some of those are actually barriers that government has imposed. So we need to look at what are the regulatory barriers that we have that make it difficult? Can we simplify the process to get licensed (as a business)? ... There’s too much of this “gotcha” mentality – ‘Well, if you don’t do this or whatever, we’re going to get you.’ There needs to be more of a collaborative, facilitating environment ... we do have an obligation, we need to make sure that we’re protecting the health, safety and well-being of the citizens, but not in such a way that we’re just in a roadblock or an impediment.
How much of a balance is it between helping and also staying out of the way to let innovation happen?
Part of it is just staying out of the way. And so I guess that’s why I’m saying, if you have an impediment, call us. But I don’t want to tell you how to run your business or make your decisions. But if there is a problem, maybe we can help solve that problem. That’s the approach more than anything else.
What do you think the Midwest Governor’s Association learned about the innovative spirit in Iowa?
It wasn’t just Iowa. ... The whole focus for the conference was on entrepreneurship and what can be done, and how we can market the Midwest. People think of Silicon Valley, and the West Coast, but there’s more and more people starting to see there are some real opportunities here. Especially in the biosciences area, because we have the raw materials that we have invested in research, in bioscience, and now we’re seeing all kinds of new products. ... So what we’re trying to say is, what do we have for advantages? (Branstad listed transportation, energy costs, education systems and health care systems as advantages for Midwest entrepreneurs.)
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