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Garrett Young Discusses Lighting, Entrepreneurship, and Rural Economic Growth with BIZ Attendees

"I had a real passion for changing the energy equation for the U.S. and the world," Garrett Young, President and Founder of Prism Projection, Inc. explained. The passion had led him into plasma physics research, but government-funded teams of scientists and engineers moved at what Young deemed a painfully slow pace. "I thought, this is going to take another 50 to 100 years and I'm not going to live that long," he shared recently with the attendees of the March Business Innovation Zone Luncheon.

LEDs: An Evolving Technology

Wanting to see a more immediate impact of his work, Young went to work for a leading company in the field of light emitting diodes, commonly known as LEDs. He was immediately struck by the potential for this rapidly evolving technology to generate huge energy savings in lighting applications beyond the home. Again, however, his employer was unwilling to move at a pace to Young's liking and the entrepreneurial spirit was upon him.

Finding a partner and defining a niche where he felt he could develop a better solution, Young set out to build a company.  As it happened, his partner's uncle, Joe Crookham, already had a company called MUSCO lighting of Oskaloosa, Iowa. That was the perfect home for Young's vision.

Young went to work for MUSCO as Director of Optoelectronic Engineering. He developed some products for MUSCO while working on the first of more than 20 patents that would form the foundation of revolutionary LED lighting for broadcast studio applications.

"We started with the vision of sustainable lighting without compromise," he said of the task they faced in converting an industry that was convinced that incandescent lighting was the only means to present the intensity and color quality demanded for studio lighting.

Sustainable Lighting and A Small Town Connection

By 2008, Young was ready to launch Prism Projection and began to scour small town Iowa for a location. "I knew that a small town would see the connection between a high growth business and the future prosperity of the town," he said noting that he wanted to remain somewhat close to his contacts at MUSCO. Visiting a dozen small towns and pitching his idea, Sully returned with the best incentives and a shared risk partnership was formed that now puts this small town of less than 1,000 at the epicenter of a revolution in LED lighting and a multi-million dollar business that counts ESPN, the Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and QVC as a few of its more recognizable clients.

Square One DSM, an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, is formerly known as Business Innovation Zone (BIZ).