Salem Connection, LaunchPad65 open for Indianola entrepreneurs

Indianola has a new coworking space available, and it’s right off the town square.  

Thirty community members came down the street from the Innovation and Technology Showcase held at Simpson College Tuesday afternoon, to the grand opening of Salem Connection and LaunchPad65 – two new initiatives designed to invite collaboration and coworking among the entrepreneurs and technology companies that call Indianola home.

Salem Connection is the space – a warm meeting and collaboration host site in the offices of EXIT Realty North Star, leased by broker Terry Pauling to entrepreneurs and organizations in need of a conference room or part-time coworking space without driving to Des Moines.

LaunchPad65 is the program – a membership initiative supported by the EMERGE@Simpson entrepreneurship program and EMERGE coordinator Todd Kielkopf. LaunchPad65 aims to connect local technology entrepreneurs to resources that can help build those companies.

“Our goal is to help our community grow through innovation and the creation of jobs and new businesses,” Pauling said.

“With the investments the community’s made in it’s fiber-to-the-home project here, and investments Simpson [College] has made in STEM programs, we’re going to show that you can do those things here, you don’t have to move anywhere else,” Kielkopf added.

Indianola, which has an estimated population just under 16,000, does not have a coworking facility offering full-time desks or offices to remote workers or entrepreneurs. However, it is home to several tech companies and projects: during the Innovation and Technology Showcase organized by Kielkopf at Simpson, representatives of Cemen Tech Inc., IdRamp, the Palmer Project, DNP123 Nano/ExpresSeed, the Carver Bridge Program and CTE Hope highlighted Indianola projects in software, security and biotechnology.

“To me, it is the businesses that are taking advantage of it to tell the people outside [Indianola] that they’re welcome and maybe do some outreach,” Kielkopf said. “[Companies are saying] where do we get to go? Do [they] go to downtown Des Moines where they might not want to, or can you come down here to stay in Warren County? We’re saying that you have that option.”

“These are things we can do,” Kielkopf added. “This combined day cost the community less than $1,000, and look at the awareness it brought and people coming together and sharing stories.”

The joint unveiling is a step toward building more jobs in Indianola – rather than relying solely on opportunities in Des Moines, Pauling said.

“We have people living in our community with ideas in their mind right now, and what we want to do is help them find the resources they need to take that to the next level, and in some cases, become a business in our community,” Pauling said.