Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award

In recognition of Neal Smith’s leadership in the creation of the national Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program—which serves entrepreneurs and businesses in all U.S. states and territories—America’s SBDC Iowa established this annual award on the occasion of its 25th anniversary (2006) to continually honor Chairman Smith’s contributions to the SBDC program and Iowa’s small business community.

The award is presented annually to a successful Iowa entrepreneur in order to encourage Iowa’s entrepreneurs, the driving force behind Iowa’s economic growth. Winning entrepreneurs must have been in business a minimum of three years and have to have been significantly assisted by an Iowa SBDC center.

2024 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year

Dustin Rhoades

Located in Sioux City, Iowa, Dustin Rhoades is the driving force behind
Ability Tech, is a business that invents and manufactures adaptive technology
for individuals with disabilities. The inspiration for this impactful venture
came from a deeply personal place – the needs of Dustin's son. Officially established in 2019, Ability Tech had been making a difference for families for around three years prior. The mission was clear: focus on improving the quality of life for customers. 

Neal Smith Past Award Winners

                                                                      Jorge Villeda

                                                                Villeda Construction

                                                                     Read His Story

Matt Curtis

Wayne‘s Ski & Cycle

Mason City

Read His Story

Bruce Teague

Caring Hands & More

Iowa City

Read His Story


Dr. Martin Gross

Gross-Wen Technologies


Read His Story

Staci Ackerson

Shankland Insurance

Charles City

Read Her Story

Brad and Angie Barber

Cabin Coffee

Clear Lake

Read Their Story

Steve and Leona Fogle

Fogle True Value & Hardware


Read Their Story

Tony Halsted

Hoover’s Hatchery Company


Read Their Story

Deb Davis

Sister’s Home Style Entrées


Read Their Story

Mike Sexton

Real Time Ag, LLC

Rockwell City

Read Their Story

Chuck Dirks

CQM Systems


Read Their Story

Tim Greene

Quality Machine of Iowa, Inc.


Read Their Story

Emily Starr

StarrMatica Learning Systems


Read Their Story

Gina Blean and Kelly Heysinger

Unified Therapy Services, Inc.


Read Their Story

John Lohman

Corridor Business Journal


Marguerite White

Premier Cleaning Services


Mary Connell

Air Control, Inc.


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