Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, EDC is a leading business growth engine for Iowa-based interstate companies. We are a collaborative, strategic partner that offers customized, results-oriented guidance for every stage of business. Fueled by a non-profit team of experts, EDC supports the businesses that power the state’s economy and beyond.
What makes EDC unique is our ability to provide hands-on, professional support and direction to both emerging and established businesses in all stages. In fact, we’re one of the only resources of our kind in the state.
From capital fundraising to branding, marketing, business planning, and analysis, EDC offers a full range of support services designed to maximize your business’s potential. Clients who have successfully grown their businesses say EDC was the trusted guide and tireless advocate they needed to reach the next level.
In 2003, EDC Founder Curt Nelson recognized a gap in the market: Businesses that supported their state economies were lacking the support they needed to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.
As a business owner himself, Curt was no stranger to these challenges. He founded EDC to walk alongside business owners and serve as a resource to help them overcome the hurdles holding them back. Our seasoned business experts roll up their sleeves, getting to the core of your business to create a plan for leveraging your strengths and opportunities for success. This critical work drives strong economic impact for our state and fuels vital and sustainable communities.
To date, EDC has helped more than 1,300 businesses—at least 100 businesses we’ve helped start from scratch.
In 2023, EDC celebrated two decades of accelerating Iowa businesses. See how far we’ve come and read the success stories we’ve helped entrepreneurs write along the way
Check out our 20th anniversary feature in The Gazette.
When you work with EDC, our team becomes an extension of your staff. We understand the difficulties of starting or scaling a business, but we also know your journey is unique. We’re committed to getting to know you, your business, and your industry so we can take you to the next level.
What sets EDC apart isn’t solely our experience, but the way we work with our clients. We don’t shy away from asking the right questions, and we’re fueled by a passion to help you grow.
With over 40 years of successful national and international business creation and leadership experience, Curt 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. Curt 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 as President of Crystal Group Inc., Hiawatha, IA.).
Alma Mater: University of Iowa
Previous Companies & Organizations: Iowa Venture Capital Association (co-founder / president), Iowa Seed Fund I & II (Fund Manager), Elmcrest Country Club (President), Crystal Group Inc. (President), Rockwell Collins Land Transport (Director Sales & Marketing), Universal Gym Equipment (Director Sales & Marketing)
Community Involvement: UI Research Foundation Board of Directors, ASAC Board of Directors, Cedar Rapids Chamber Board of Directors, Isaak Walton Board of Directors, and various other private boards.
Life Outside of EDC: Cycling, skiing, golfing, friends, and ongoing DIY projects on my children’s houses.
What is one of the most common challenges you have encountered with entrepreneurs and existing business leaders over the years? Understanding the need to wrap the right talent and experience around their vision and successfully execute accordingly.
Jane Burroughs currently serves as VP of Operations and Program Funding for the EDC. She provides clients with operations mentoring, purchasing best practices and materials management plus guidance with funding at local, state of Iowa and federal levels. Jane works closely with IEDA on all new funding programs and has been especially successful with client awards relative to the Iowa’s Public Innovation Funding Continuum. With over 16 years working with IEDA Jane brings a vast knowledge of all programs.
Alma Mater: Iowa State University
Previous Companies & Organizations: RepellT LLC, Crystal Group, Rockwell Goss
Life Outside of EDC: Jane is an active member of the Cedar Rapids Moose Lodge, a member of PEO, Chapter CU, and supporter of Miracles in Motion.
How have you seen funding opportunities and requirements change in your time at EDC? The state of Iowa is fortunate to have supportive funding that became available with the flood of 2008, the pandemic and derecho of 2020. In the early years, there were various grants available, but that is no longer the case. Low interest loans tied to milestones and deliverables are the normal now. The funding documentation requirements have increased, and the process (due diligence) has significantly improved over the years. Iowa has a variety of funding programs for startups to expand Iowa businesses.
Stacey Paoli brings experience in finance and administration to her role as the office manager for EDC. Her focus is to manage office operations, human resources, internal bookkeeping and accounting, and vendor relationships for EDC. She also assists clients with their bookkeeping and accounting needs.
Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and Western Wisconsin Technical College
Previous Companies & Organizations: US Cellular, Heartland Investments
Community Involvement: Arthur Elementary Parent Teacher Association Treasurer, Cedar Rapids Youth Hockey Association Treasurer, Cedar Rapids High School Hockey Association Board of Directors (Treasurer)
Certifications: QuickBooks™ certified user, notary public
Life Outside of EDC: Hiking, running, walking our dog, gardening, interior decorating and DIY projects.
What’s one tip you always give entrepreneurs about managing their business finances? It is never too early to start using accounting software and to establish a budget. Learn how to read and understand your financial statements so you can make better decisions in scaling and growing your company.
As VP of Marketing, Beth works directly with our entrepreneurs and business leaders to help them create or enhance their current marketing strategies and plans. Brand development, market research and fit, go-to-market strategies, sales support, and promotional content are common areas where Beth assists EDC clients.
Alma Mater: Iowa State University
Previous Companies & Organizations: Iowa City Area Business Partnership, Raining Rose, North Forty, Benchmark, Inc.
Community Involvement: Iowa City Downtown District Board Member, EntreFEST Planning Team, Waypoint, United Way
Life Outside of EDC: Golfing, cycling, live music, wineries, reading, travel (not necessarily in that order)
What marketing challenges have you found in working with your clients? It’s typical that most entrepreneurs or business leaders don’t understand marketing. Early-stage business founders don’t understand how important it is to have a sound brand developed prior to launching their business. Likewise, a rebrand can have a huge impact on an established business and reset their marketing strategies.
Brianna fills our newly created Client Services Manager position with a passion for organization and all things data. She has a front row seat in building direct relationships with most of our clients, and plays a key role in onboarding prospects and new clients.
Alma Mater: University of Northern Iowa
Previous Companies & Organizations: New Leader Manufacturing, Adidas Group
Life Outside of EDC: Hiking, biking, camping out west, visiting breweries and wineries, and anything that involves animals.
What’s your favorite part about onboarding new clients at EDC? Learning about the product they are developing. Whether it be manufacturing, ed-tech or a SaaS product, it’s fascinating to learn about their product and where the passion came from.