Advance SWI

Advance Southwest Iowa Corp. is the economic development agency for Pottawattamie County. Pictured in the agency’s Council Bluffs office, from left, are Shalimar Mazetis, rural development manager; Paula Hazlewood, executive director; and Niki Ferguson, project management coordinator.

Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation was a recipient of a $100,000 Iowa West Foundation grant that allows the organization to implement small business and entrepreneurial programming.

The grant is part of a larger Iowa West initiative to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa, according to a release by Advance.

To lead the charge, Niki Ferguson, a former business owner and project manager for Advance, is now the manager of entrepreneurial development.

“Advance’s goal is not to duplicate services that are already being offered by the Small Business Development Center or other various organizations in Pottawattamie County, but rather enhance those services by unearthing those businesses and entrepreneurs that are here but more than likely not aware of the resources out there to assist them,” said Paula Hazlewood, executive director of Advance.

Hazlewood said that Ferguson is innovative and a natural builder which made her the right choice to launch and ramp-up this new component of Advance’s programming.

“I think there is an untapped group of innovators and entrepreneurs in Council Bluffs and throughout Pottawattamie County,” said Ferguson. “These individuals and small businesses could have a monumental impact on future economic development. I’m excited to identify these innovators and be a resource and connector for them.”

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