When Julia Dannen, a small business owner, immigrated to the United States from Russia in 2004, she had no college education or career path.
But after moving from New York to Iowa, she went to college and started her own tax business.
In 2021, Dannen was named the recipient of the Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award by the State Small Business Development Center.
One of the things she’s been successful at was helping her clients in the Mason City area access Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans through the federal government.
It’s this kind of entrepreneurship and inclusiveness that the Iowa Small Business Development Center hopes to promote and develop in others.
Dannen was in attendance at an Inclusion Challenge launch event Wednesday morning at the Bioscience and Health Science Building on the main campus of Iowa Central Community College.
Mark Madrid, associate administrator in the Office of Entrepreneurial Development of the US Small Business Administration, was impressed by Dannen’s story.
“She has helped people in this region to access government funding such as the PPP program, which is tied to forgiveness,” said Madrid. “As a small business owner herself, she was an activist.
“If you look at where she started, walking to the community college and where she is today – especially immigrating from Russia and so on. – it’s the American dream. Not only is she maintaining herself in this area of Iowa, but she is helping these rural Iowa entrepreneurs.
Dannen, a graduate of North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City and the University of North Iowa in Cedar Falls, owns D&S Services in Mason City. One of his biggest tips for other entrepreneurs is to not give up.
“Determination,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to accomplish something. And faith. They are the big ones. Do not abandon.
Dannen said she maintains a strong desire to be successful in life.
“My desire to do something good in this life for myself and my child as a single mother”, said Dannen. “Now my child is in high school. It was a great and very rewarding trip.
The Inclusion Challenge aims to help minority business owners recover from the pandemic. According to published news articles, minority business owners have left the business world at a faster rate than white business owners.
The Inclusion Challenge provides resources including personalized and culturally relevant business and financial advice, business training webinars, and access to the most connected small business networks so underserved entrepreneurs can navigate the path to success. small businesses.
“Diversity is the greatest asset for economic development in the United States”, said Madrid. ” It is essential. The numbers don’t lie. This is the direction in which we are heading. It’s a beautiful day here in Iowa. After getting off the plane from (Washington) DC to be here with Lisa (Shimkat, US State Director SBDC Iowa) and her team and with the district office, for the launch of the Inclusion Challenge.
Madrid said the challenge is to meet small businesses where they are.
Broadband will be the key to small business development in rural Iowa, according to Madrid.
“Access,” said Madrid. Internet access. Broadband access, which is very important to President (Joe) Biden, Vice President (Kamala) Harris and Administrator (Isabella) Guzman. With the bipartite infrastructure agreement on the table, broadband and cybersecurity are important elements ”,
Broadband has certainly been a priority in Fort Dodge as earlier this week city council took action to ensure that a municipal public broadband service will provide internet service to customers in 2023.
Yvette Collazo, associate administrator for Small Business Development Centers at the US Small Business Administration, also left the nation’s capital for Fort Dodge on Wednesday. She said the supply chain is another major concern for small business owners.
“We talked to different companies and one of the things we learned – one of the challenges they mentioned – was the supply chain and the cost of doing business,” said Collazo. “I think if the SBA could play a role in a comprehensive program that would help solve supply chain issues. It would be essential to help businesses in rural areas.
Collazo said inclusiveness is important globally.
“Mark and I have a good experience for its importance”, she said. “We experience it every day and it is also something that small businesses experience every day. The importance of inclusiveness really enters global markets. The more inclusive we are, the better our position in a global market. That’s really what he brings to the table.
One opportunity for area small business owners is the Community Navigator Pilot Program.
“Recently, we launched the Community Navigator pilot”, said Madrid. “This is a $ 100 million grant opportunity through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The whole effort behind that is to meet small businesses where they are. The smallest of the little ones. In both urban and rural America, the primary focus is on businesses owned by women, veterans, and the socially and economically disadvantaged. The whole point is that we want to make sure that the people who haven’t accessed the SBA for whatever reason, in all parts of the country, have the means to do so.
“And the way we’re going to do it is through grants. We look forward to spotting best practices that help small businesses during recovery and some in survival mode. “
For more information about the program, visit sba.gov.
Across the country, Madrid said it was essential to be able to connect companies with opportunities.
“How to empower them and meet them where they are” he said. “It will open up opportunities and build confidence. Distance to something should not be a barrier to opportunities. And the key to that is broadband access. Access to the world via the Internet. Access the digitized part of your services and develop your market. Locally, county-wide, state-wide, regional, federal, national, international. The rural environment is very important for us to meet them and access to broadband will be important. “
Iowa State Extension and Outreach Center – Webster County, Iowa Central Community College, Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, Iowa Economic Development Authority, All Cultures Equal, Community House, Small Business Administration and America’s Small Business Development Center Iowa, were among the organizations present for the Inclusion Challenge event.