Leadership and Innovation for the Future:
Transforming Opportunities into Reality

Economic Gardening

Advance Iowa provides Economic Gardening services to second-stage companies across Iowa.

Economic Gardening is an innovative economic growth strategy that focuses on providing information and tools to grow existing businesses.

To do this, teams of skilled researchers mine sophisticated databases and use high-end tools related to search engine optimization, geographic information systems and social media marketing. Some examples of our assistance include:

  • Identifying market trends, prioritizing sales leads, competitive data and business opportunities

  • Refining companies’ core strategies and business models

  • Raising visibility for a firm’s web presence via search engine optimization strategies

  • Using social media to connect with customers and create buzz about products or services


Economic gardening is often referred to as a “grow your own” strategy for economic development. It represents a new way of supporting growth companies and letting Iowa business owners know how important they are to their local economies.

After qualifying companies are selected as participants, a team of research specialists are assigned to work with them. The team’s first step is to interview CEOs and pinpoint their specific growth issues. This interview process is important because often a company’s real obstacle to growth may be masked by another issue. The research team then devotes a certain number of hours to each company over the course of a few weeks to gather and deliver action-oriented information.

Contact Info: 

Dan Beenken

Director, Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Program Director, Advance Iowa