Regular check-ins are healthy for your business

By Sheri Benson, ISU SBDC business counselor

The holidays are upon us! It is a busy time working IN your business. Did you know that it is, also, a great time of year to work ON your business? We change the batteries in our smoke detectors annually.  We keep annual dental, vision and/or medical appointments to make sure we are running smoothly. We even honor service schedule for our vehicles!  SO, how about scheduling regular check-ups or ins with the people who help keep your most important economic engine healthy- your business?

For instance, year end is a great time to talk to your accountant. Discussion topics could include: Am I maximizing my tax deductions? I am contemplating hiring a new employee, what does that look like? I understand that there are changes coming to the Iowa Sales Tax system. What does that look like for me? I am frustrated with my bookkeeping software. Can you help me? I might want to sell my business this year. What should I think about? How do I know how much it is worth?

Then, how about a conversation with your attorney? Perhaps, the business has been organized as a sole proprietorship since inception. Your attorney is a great resource to help you think about the different legal forms an Iowa business can organize. There may be benefits available to you through organizing differently than when the business first opened.

How about your insurance agent? Sometimes we steer clear of these business partners, because they might “sell us something”. They might ALSO keep us from experiencing a financial loss, because the business insurance coverages do not match the current business risk. Does your agent know that the business keeps inventory at the owner’s home? Does the agent know the business has expanded into woodworking and has a lathe? Does the agent know the building has recently been fitted with new wiring, plumbing and mechanicals? An annual check in/up is a great way to convey changes.

Finally, if your business continues to feel the effects of COVID, and the PPP loans were not quite enough, there is time to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. These loans are administered directly by the SBA and are available until December 31, 2021. You can find more information online at

SBDC is here to work with you. How can we help? Let’s get a conversation going. You can reach us through a click or a call. The fastest method to connect with us is to visit our website at, select the request counseling button, complete the electronic form and choose Iowa State as your center of choice. Call us at 515-296-7828 or, ask a Chamber official how to reach us and they will point you in our direction.

Enjoy today-Sheri Benson, CBA, CGBP, ISU SBDC business counselor

Shop Small Saturday more important than ever

Shop Small Saturday is Nov. 27

The Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce is promoting Shop Small Saturday to be held November 27, 2021. This national event was created by American Express in 2010, designed to encourage patrons to shop in their local communities to help boost the economy. Studies have shown that for every $100 dollars spent, $68 goes back into the community. Shopping local also creates jobs. 

Again this year, the Chamber has partnered with American Express as a ‘Neighborhood Champion’ for the Shop Small Campaign and encourages the public to do holiday shopping at Marshall County businesses on Saturday, November 27. Many local retailers and restaurants will offer specials, discounts, and promotions, and participating businesses will be giving away $20 in Chamber Bucks.

Participating businesses in the Chamber’s Shop Small Saturday event include: 319 Décor and Design, BeMobile Verizon, Black Tire Bike Company, Brit Marie’s Country Lace, Hellberg’s Jewelers, McGregor’s Furniture, My Dinosaur Dreams, Oliver Beene Designs, Oliver Beene The Other Side, Pentz Appliance & TV, Smokin G’s BBQ Restaurant & Catering Service, State Street Trading Company, Strand’s Flooring & Paint, Taylor’s Maid-Rite, Thompson True Value, and Tremont Restaurants.

The Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-star Accredited Chamber located in Marshalltown and serving all of Marshall County. The Chamber’s mission is to “Advocate for business and tourism.” For more information, visit

From disaster to destination: Damaged tree from tornado gets new life as a gnome

Marshalltown Iowa gnome from a damaged tree

There is a brand-new tourist destination in Marshalltown and a dead tree had something to do with it.

A pin oak damaged from the 2018 tornado was transformed into a six-foot Hawkeye gnome by the amazing chainsaw artist Gary Keenan.

It is located at the home of Lonnie and Beth Barnes at 509 N. 1st. Street. The couple loves to cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes, so they wanted to show their allegiance in their front yard.

Beth Barnes said the response has been very positive to the gnome, which was created over a few days in October.

“People have stopped and have taken pictures,” she said. “We see lots of smiles and people are kind of amazed at how big he is.”

Keenan often can be spotted at the Iowa State Fair making wood sculptures and amazing visitors.

See a video on this story on the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce YouTube channel.

Marshalltown Iowa