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Iowa training program helps small businesses grow

A program called "Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses" is designed to help established small businesses grow.

WAUKEE, Iowa — Darci Evans is an Iowa business owner who has a vision for the future. Right now, she is getting ready for her next expansion into Waukee.

"The building itself is just really unique and really cool," Evans said as she stood outside what was the Waukee United Methodist Church.

Inside, the pews are gone, but there's still a lot of work to do.

"This will be the main workout area, so we have a lot of demo to do," Evans said as she gave Local 5 a tour of her next Burn Boot Camp location.

Evans owns two other gyms in Clive and Ankeny. She credits her ability to expand, in part, to the training she received from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

"I think the first thing that I really, really loved about it was it was a great sense of relief to know I am not that different than so many other small business owners," Evans said.

The program is a partnership between Iowa's community colleges and runs through DMACC. It offers training on things like negotiation, marketing, and management.

"I think we really hit almost kind of every facet of business. Some of the scholars that have gone through I would describe it as a 'mini MBA,' where your business is the entire case study," described Jacki Boldt, executive director of Goldman Sacs 10,000 Small Businesses.

The nationwide program came to Iowa in 2019, and since, dozens of small businesses have gone through it.

"The curriculum is very specific to businesses that do have kind of a foundation already in place, and that are looking to scale and grow and add those jobs and revenue," said Boldt.

The program is looking for applicants for its next round of classes.  The deadline has been extended to November 24.

Meanwhile, Evans said, one of the biggest benefits has been the network of local business owners she now has who has helped her through tough times.

"Even during a pandemic, I actually could continue to grow my business and see the opportunities that were out there, because there are a ton of them," she said.