AMES, Iowa – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, held a first-of-its-kind Entrepreneur Expo at her alma mater Iowa State University.
Hundreds of Iowans attended to hear from keynote speakers, join breakout sessions with federal agencies, network with agency officials, and learn about federal research and development programs. 31 federal agency departments and state entities were present, providing attendees with unprecedented access to small business programs and opportunities across the federal marketplace.
Watch Ranking Member Ernst’s opening remarks here.
“This is where innovation is happening,” said Ranking Member Ernst. “We have incredible minds here; we have great ingenuity and innovation in the state of Iowa, and I want to see our citizens, my constituents, really get involved. We’re here to open the door for you!”
Watch Ranking Member Ernst discuss defense opportunities for small businesses here.
“Iowans have a critical role to play in our security. Some of the work we’ve done with the Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer programs will help ensure your taxpayer dollars are actually going to American small businesses, not supporting China or other adversaries,” said Ranking Member Ernst.
In 2009, 945 Iowa small businesses were participating in federal contracting as vendors. By 2022, that number fell to 336, representing nearly a 65% loss. Ernst’s Expo was focused on giving Iowa’s small businesses a fair shot at competing for federal contracts.
Ernst is leading the ACCESS (Accountability and Clarity in Contracts to Engage Small Suppliers) for Small Businesses Act to prioritize small businesses in federal contracting and ensure that our country’s national security industrial base is upheld by many American small businesses rather than dependent on a few.
Last year, Ernst fought to pass a measure to prevent Chinese and Russian shell companies from accessing national security-related technology from U.S. small business programs.