DES MOINES, Iowa — Small brick and mortar businesses have struggled to get people back into their stores since the start of the pandemic. The Iowa Economic Development Authority is helping these businesses build an online presence.
Last week the IDEA launched ShopIowa.com, an online marketplace where small businesses in Iowa can sell their products for free. The Iowa Economic Development Authority said they thought this was the perfect way to help owners promote their business and make the shopping experience easier for consumers.
“We just think that this is a really fantastic way for Iowa small retailers to be able to compete in today’s large online economy and for shoppers really to support their small businesses and shop local online,” Spokesperson, Staci Hupp Ballard said.
The University of Northern Iowa did a study on the impact COVID-19 has had on Iowa businesses. That study reported that there has been a 66% decrease in consumer confidence and spending in the state. Only 29% of Iowa businesses reported having an online presence in March.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority is also offering training to small businesses on how to convert to digital sales.
This isn’t IEDA’s only effort to support local brick and mortar stores. The company’s Energy Center has also launched a new initiative, Iowa Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program. This program helps business owners pay off any utility debt they’ve incurred during the pandemic.
In order to qualify to sell products on ShopIowa, you must sell physical products that can be easily shipped and have 20 or fewer employees.
To be eligible for the Iowa Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program, you must have 50 or fewer employees and have incurred utility bill debt for their electric or natural gas services between March 17th and June 30th, 2020.
Team Leader at the Iowa Energy Center, Brian Selinger, said they want to assist smaller organizations who need help the most.
“We know that there’s enough challenges they have out there. So we’ve tried to keep this to be for the small businesses and small nonprofits to get them much needed support,” Selinger said.
The deadline to apply for the Iowa Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program is August 21st. To learn more about this program visit here.
For businesses interested in selling products, visit shopiowa.com/sell for more details.