Why Iowa? Q&A with Juan Pablo Sanchez
Why Iowa? Q&A with Juan Pablo Sanchez
Juan Pablo Sanchez is a native of Chile and seaman by heart who has found a great quality of life for his family and career opportunities in Iowa. In January, he was named the Director of Inclusive Business Strategies for the Greater Des Moines Partnership to lead efforts to advancing small and minority-owned businesses and connecting the entrepreneur support ecosystem in our region.
Sanchez worked for the Maritime Authority of Chile during his more than 20-year career as a Naval Officer, and was involved in community work in every location where he served. He is a graduate of the Chilean Naval Academy with a degree in Maritime Administration and Naval Affairs, as well as holding bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from a Chilean university and a Master of Business Administration from Concordia University, Chicago IL.
Sanchez is also the founder of Oxsur Capital LLC, an Iowa-based company that fosters investment opportunities between Latin American and U.S. firms.
1. What is your role as Director of Inclusive Business Strategies at the Greater DSM Partnership?
We are working to support and facilitate small and minority-owned businesses, bringing together resources and implementing initiatives to tackle the multiple needs of our targeted groups, including minorities, women, people with disabilities, disabled veterans and/or LGBTQ+ communities. Some of my main priorities are to create educational development opportunities, viable access to capital, events and general support to enhance minority business enterprises.
We are also committed to seeking out and fostering relationships with members of the entrepreneurial support community, joining efforts to build an equitable and more supportive business ecosystem. All this aligns with The Partnership’s strategic priority of increasing the number of and support for minority-owned businesses.
2. What resources are available to someone starting a business in central Iowa?
Today in central Iowa, we have a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem, shaped by public and private entities that are bringing multiple approaches to reaching a common goal of fostering small businesses and startups in the region. This ecosystem provides entrepreneurs with a wide range of resources including access to capital, business literacy, mentoring programs, and more. Iowa Economic Development Authority is also a critical resource with its public support for entrepreneurship and innovation at the state level, as well as the resources provided through regional agencies like SBA and SBDC in communities throughout the state.
Specific to accessing capital, businesses will find resources from traditional banking institutions, many of which have tools specifically for small businesses, as well as several entrepreneur support organizations that are developing innovative financial tools. These are not only generating a positive economic effect, but also a vehicle for social mobility for underrepresented groups.
3. A new program is the Scale DSM Minority Business Accelerator. What are the program’s goals and how is the first cohort going?
One of The Partnership’s signature initiatives is Scale DSM, a business accelerator program that brings an award-winning curriculum to minority business owners. The program provides access to knowledge, management know-how and networks needed to increase revenue, create jobs and positively impact the community. This is a seven-month, tuition free, small business education program.
In 2022, we are hosting the first cohort with participants that, having passed the startup phase, may not have reached their full potential. The goal of the program is to empower those business owners and cultivate an environment where companies can ramp-up their growth. This year, we couldn’t get a better cohort. It is an amazing group of people, representing a wide range of industries including food service, logistics, media, commercial real estate, consulting, cosmetics, automotive service and more. However, what I really like about this group is that they are not only business owners with so much potential but community leaders wanting to make the difference in their respective areas. Now, we are halfway through, and graduation is expected in December this year.
Also, it’s very exciting that thanks to strategic partners, we have been able to secure this program for 3 years until 2024. This will allow us to broader the impact in the community and serving in a more effective way underrepresented small businesses.
4. What advice do you have for someone considering a move to Iowa?
When you are in Iowa, it feels like such a great place to be, whether you are a student, young professional or an entrepreneur. A move to Iowa is a move to a top ranked place to start a business, a career and raise a family. Here, everyone has a place and a tremendous potential to be developed.
The disruptive effects from the pandemic as well as inflation, supply chain and talent issues have brought out the best of our people and organizations that support entrepreneurship in Iowa. A region that can come together to overcome challenges is a region that will benefit from the opportunities that arise during crisis times. I believe this is what has set us apart as a resilient and thriving entrepreneurial community.
Overall, Iowa provides a friendly environment for traditional small businesses and startups with a low cost of doing business, a highly trained workforce and the necessary resources and investing options to scale business and innovation.
5. Please give us recommendations of 3 places to go or things to do in Iowa.
Finally, don’t miss the vibrant activities happening in Downtown Des Moines, with one of the best farmers’ markets in the nation and a number of festivals and events that highlight our rich and diverse culture.
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