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Working to Give Rural Communities the Opportunity to Thrive

The Bill Menner Group Startup

April 4, 2023


During the latest Small Business & Startup Stories DSM podcast, Bill Menner, Founder of The Bill Menner Group in Grinnell and Executive Director of Iowa Rural Development Council, discussed his Greater Des Moines (DSM) business and entrepreneurial journey with Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Startup Community Builder Diana Wright.

About The Bill Menner Group

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Menner knows how starting a business in a rural area is a different risk profile with unique challenges. At the Bill Menner Group, where he offers insights into federal programs and partnerships that can increase opportunities for rural Iowans, innovative thinking helps him connect businesses and leaders in ways that benefit communities in the state. His advocacy and leadership continue to help enhance life within those rural communities in a multitude of ways, including the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC), a public-private statewide non-profit.

Entrepreneurship + Rural Iowa

In rural areas that might be resistant to change, Menner utilizes different avenues, including the Iowa Rural Summit. The event is hosted by the IRDC and held every year where they highlight what’s happening in other places. By showing templates for action, the IRDC demonstrates and encourages change that is in the best interest of the community. Elements such as housing options, healthcare, education and establishing new small businesses and startups are important for rural communities to “shrink smart,” and keep thriving.

In rural areas, entrepreneurs face lower barriers of entry so growing a business and finding capital and support might be easier, especially if a core group of leaders gets behind your idea. Making positive change can also come from one business taking action. If one business owner fixes up their façade, the one next door might begin to consider updating or upgrading their space, and before long restoration of buildings becomes a unifying goal. Through grants and other federal and state resources, projects can get underway. These efforts directly impact the quality of life and vitality of communities where they happen.

Menner’s goal is to give communities, people, places and partners the opportunity to thrive by empowering them with the tools to make change and develop projects. Partnerships such as Empower Rural Iowa, through Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) help tackle issues such as the rural housing shortage, attracting residents and financing broadband. Creating dynamic communities means creating a growth mindset among rural Iowans, allowing them to take risks and champion their causes.

See more about The Bill Menner Group on Twitter, or sign up for the seventh Iowa Rural Summit at iowardc.org/summit taking place April 11 – 12, 2023.

Listen to the entire podcast above.

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Startup Stories DSM

Startup Stories DSM is a podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs who share both their victories and failures on their paths to success. It is produced by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.