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EDC was formed in 2003 with the mission to stimulate Iowa’s economic growth through the creation and expansion of high-impact businesses. More than 17 years later, EDC remains focused on this mission, having now supported more than 1,100 Iowa businesses who in turn have generated over $3 billion in positive economic impact.
Who We Help
EDC is focused on growing high-impact, Iowa-based inter-state commerce businesses; ones that drive strong economic impact and fuel vital and sustainable communities. From medical and Ag products to SaaS businesses, EDC offers a full-range of support services designed to maximize your business’ potential.
Whether you have conducted customer discovery and need help with product launch or don’t know where to start, EDC can help you determine the market opportunity for your idea and a plan for capitalization and growth.
Early Stage Businesses
You’ve launched your business but things aren’t taking off as quickly as you had presumed or maybe you need help putting structure around demand. EDC can help your business scale efficiently and effectively.
Even the most established businesses have tapped into EDC’s expertise for strategic planning, new product development, team development, organizational restructuring and succession planning.
How We Help
All with over ten years on the EDC team, and each bringing over 20 years of private industry experience ahead of that, the staff at EDC have the needed experience and proven track record necessary to provide hands on, done it before support in a manner not available from any other resource.
Services We Provide: In addition to one-time advice and longer-term mentoring, when needed, EDC can become an extension of your team providing hands-on, “helping you do it” assistance in the following areas:
- Customer Discovery / Market Research
- Business Planning / Execution
- Strategic Planning / Execution
- IP Strategy
- Financials Modeling and General Accounting
- Capital Raising
- Team building, Hiring / On Boarding / Training
- Marketing Planning / Execution
- Sales Planning / Execution
- Development Planning / Execution
- Finance Planning / Execution
- Manufacturing / Production Planning / Execution
- ERP System Selection and Management
- Exit Strategy / Planning
Our Process: EDC uses a proven methodology for identifying the strengths and opportunities of a business, its team and its leadership.
Using CEO Curt Nelson’s book, The Recipe for Business Success as curriculum, the EDC team takes business owners through a rubric to score their current business situation and identify an action plan for growth. To start working with EDC, fill out our brief application.
EDC uses the Caliper® profile to identify a leader’s natural strengths as well as areas where improvement may be needed. This tool is also used to help leaders assemble highly effective and balanced work teams.
EDC has been a value to us from the very beginning and has touched on almost every part of our business. EDC differs from other business resources in the scope of their expertise, their ability to engage hands-on rather than simply advise, and the clear dedication they show for each company they assist. Our leadership team is working with them weekly as we navigate both the challenges and opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.
When we were getting our bearings with HLT, the EDC gave us reliable, grounded advice from people who have been there/done that and see businesses through multiple stages. Young entrepreneurs need that perspective–we need that seasoned help to understand the common pitfalls of starting and building a business. It is extraordinarily valuable.
The EDC has been a valuable resource to my team and I as we were mapping out our expansion strategy and building our sales. We have also relied on the EDC time and again for help navigating the various funding options in the state and beyond. The EDC is a critical part of growing the local economy and entrepreneurial ecosystem. They have real-world experience to provide guidance and resources to help entrepreneurs succeed.
Who We Are
EDC’s team consists of seasoned business experts with a combined 100+ years of experience in a variety of industries. The team has worked together for over a decade to provide hands-on assistance to more than 1,100 Iowa business owners. In addition, EDC has curated a network of trusted subject matter experts and assembled an esteemed Board of Directors to lend insights when applicable to the specific business situation.
Position: President & CEO
With over thirty-five years of successful national and international business creation and leadership experience, Curtis Nelson has directed the development and successful launch of over 100 new businesses and more than 500 new products for the communications, IT, military, transportation, medical, health, food, and gardening industries worldwide. Nelson is a seasoned public speaker, entrepreneur, investor, consultant, and three-time veteran of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies® list (#48, #67, #225).
A 1974 graduate from the University of Iowa, Nelson holds a BBA in Marketing. He has been an active U of I alumnus, served seven years on the U of I Research Foundation BOD, is a director and officer on multiple private and public boards, and is also the author of The Recipe for Business Success®.
Nelson currently serves as President & CEO of EDC, Inc., a nationally recognized business accelerator which he founded in 2003. He is the President & CEO of CRN LLC, a business consulting organization, and AccelerateIT, LLC; manager of Iowa Seed Fund, LLC and Iowa Seed Fund II, LLC both seed-stage investment funds. Nelson is also co-founder and current President of the Iowa Venture Capital Association.
Position: VP of Operations and Program Funding
With over 25 years of operations experience, Jane Burroughs currently serves as VP of Operations and Program Funding for the Entrepreneurial Development Center. Jane provides EDC clients with operations mentoring and guidance from contracts and sourcing to materials management and procurement. Most recently, Jane was Director of Operations for RepelIT LLC, a start-up manufacturer of retail deer repellent distributed nationally. At RepelIT, she was responsible for setting up and managing the entire procurement, manufacturing and materials management process.
Prior to RepelIT, Jane was the Director of Materials for Crystal Group Inc., a designer/manufacturer for PC based server architecture specifically tailored for mission critical telecommunications, military and industrial deployment on a worldwide basis. At Crystal Group, Jane was responsible for purchasing, MRP, supplier identification and relationship management, production staging, and shipping and receiving. She tracked and reported on material COGS, inventory turns, obsolete inventory, and on-time delivery metrics on an annual basis.
Jane also previously worked at Rockwell as a Net Requirement Analyst and focused on inventory control and planning functions in the Materials/Purchasing Department.
Position: VP of Marketing and Strategy
Julie Zielinski currently serves as EDC’s VP of Marketing & Strategy. Julie brings over 20 years of corporate innovation and marketing experience, most recently as Vice President of Marketing with Allsteel in Muscatine, IA, a global contract office furniture brand within HNI Corporation. Her corporate experience includes team leadership in Product Management, New Market and Product Development, Marketing Research, Branding, Strategic Planning, and Marketing Communications. As an independent consultant, Julie worked with local, national, and global organizations to identify strategic growth opportunities and translate these into executable business plans to strengthen their unique competitive advantage in the marketplace.
At the EDC, Julie leverages her marketing, new product development, and strategy expertise to help Iowa-based entrepreneurial clients identify strategic growth opportunities for their businesses and develop actionable business plans to achieve their growth objectives. She also facilitates an Entrepreneurial Founders Group and manages the corridor-based Advance in 60 educational programming series for Entrepreneurs. Julie brings first-hand start up and local entrepreneurial experience to her work: She seeded and co-owns a real estate and property management company from a simple “accidental” housing investment while she was an MBA student.
Since 2005, Julie has served as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, teaching Capstone Strategic Management, Leadership Seminars, Consumer Behavior, and Entrepreneurial Marketing. She is currently an instructor for Cornell College as well as the UI Venture School and provides educational programming for the UI Founders Club.
Julie has served on the Marketing Advisory Council for the University of Iowa, the Board of Advisors for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business School of Management, and the board of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa. She is currently a member of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary, a Board Member of the Shelter House in Iowa City and volunteers her time locally with the Iowa City Community Schools.
Julie has a B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa.
Position: Office Manager
With over 28 years of experience in Finance and Administration, Stacey Paoli currently serves as the Office Manager for EDC. Her focus is to manage office operations, human resources, internal bookkeeping and accounting and vendor relationships for EDC. Additionally, she assists EDC entrepreneur clients with their bookkeeping and accounting needs. Stacey has been with EDC for more than 11 years.
Stacey’s past experience includes serving as the Administrative Supervisor in the Marion, Iowa, customer care center for US Cellular. During her tenure, she worked with executive management, developed training plans for the administrative staff, and created new database programs to track care center and industry trends. Prior to her employment with US Cellular, Stacey worked at Heartland Investments in the Operations department assisting brokers with trading and other financial operations.
In addition, she also served as the treasurer of the Arthur Elementary Parent Teacher Association for eight terms, served as the team treasurer for the Cedar Rapids Youth Hockey Association for five years and served on the Board of Directors of the Cedar Rapids High School Hockey Association in the capacity of Treasurer for three terms.
Stacey has attended courses at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and Western Wisconsin Technical College both located in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In addition, Stacey is a QuickBooks™ certified user and a Notary Public.
For more than 17 years, the Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC) has helped accelerate the growth of high impact Iowa companies. Since its establishment in 2003, EDC clients have in turn generated over $3.2 billion dollars of related economic impact.
As a not-for-profit business accelerator, EDC’s mission is to stimulate economic growth by assisting with the creation and expansion of high-impact Iowa businesses. EDC works with businesses of all types and sizes – from start-ups to well-established, multi-million-dollar entities – connecting needs with qualified community and state resources and providing hands-on professional business direction. Actively working with approximately 40 clients at any time, EDC also meets with more than 80 prospective clients each year.
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