Gift to Enhance Study of Midwest Markets and Entrepreneurship

University Professor Peter Orazem A gift of nearly $1.7 million will support a new program to study Midwest economies in Iowa State University’s Department of Economics.

The Charles Koch Foundation will provide $1,685,000 over five years to the department’s Program for the Study of Midwest Markets and Entrepreneurship. The foundation’s contribution may grow to nearly $2.5 million, as it has pledged to match other gifts given to the program up to that amount.

“The generous support of the Charles Koch Foundation will help us to fill a gap in research and education on how Midwest markets work, and how they might work better to support Midwestern entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Joshua Rosenbloom, chair of the Department of Economics.

“Studies of entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth have focused predominantly on the experiences of cities, and mainly on the East and West Coasts,” said Peter Orazem, University Professor of economics who directs the program. “Compared to these urban areas, Midwest labor, product and capital markets are thin, which means they typically have fewer buyers and sellers, wider spreads in prices and wages and greater chances that needed workers, investors or customers will not match with firms.”

“That’s why we believe it’s important to better understand how Midwest markets function in a world where increasingly people and companies benefit from locating near one another,” Orazem said. “It’s also important to understand how policy choices enhance or diminish economic outcomes in the Midwest.”

The Charles Koch Foundation gift will help broaden learning and teaching opportunities, supporting the hiring of one or two new faculty members and providing support to current faculty affiliated with the program. With the gift, the program will award up to three graduate student fellowships and six undergraduate student scholarships.

The new resources also provide support for the program’s research, which includes a project to better understand how state tax policies affect the climate for business and economic activity. The new “Border Index” improves on existing indexes that rate states on their business climates, by making comparisons of tax effects on economic activity in areas close to state borders.

The program also will support new and ongoing research on topics that include identifying how Midwest states can attract and retain critical human capital, and how government policies enhance or restrict those efforts. The program will analyze how taxes, regulations and governmental policies impact entrepreneurship and economic growth.

The Program for the Study of Midwest Markets and Entrepreneurship will focus on several key areas in entrepreneurship, including the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in fostering start-up companies in rural markets; factors that may help reverse the slow pace of entrepreneurship in the Midwest; and the Midwestern landscape for entrepreneurial finance, including supply and demand for venture capital.

The Program for the Study of Midwest Markets and Entrepreneurship adds to the portfolio of Iowa State’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. The initiative provides students with practical business development and entrepreneurial experiences essential for their success in future careers and endeavors, and serves as an incubator for start-ups that eventually impact the communities where they launch. Each year more than 700 students participate in the initiative’s educational activities and programs, allowing them to experience entrepreneurship first-hand.

The commitment from the Charles Koch Foundation to the Iowa State University Foundation is part of the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, with a historic goal to raise $1.1 billion, which will help support Iowa State in becoming the premier land-grant university for the 21st century and beyond.

About the Charles Koch Foundation

Charles G. Koch has supported research and educational programs focused on improving human well-being, especially for the least fortunate, for more than 50 years. The Charles Koch Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has continued this mission since its founding in 1980 by supporting scholars and students in their study of free societies, and the ideas, institutions and values that maximize well-being. The foundation supports more than 300 universities and colleges across the country and provides students with resources to further their educational opportunities and career development. For more information, visit

About the Department of Economics

The Department of Economics, coadministered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is one of the oldest and most recognized units at Iowa State University. The department’s undergraduate programs train students to think independently and objectively about the inherent economic nature of many of the world’s problems, from basic decisions facing businesses and individuals, to the performance of the macroeconomic system, to global resource utilization issues. The department’s graduate programs emphasize rigorous analysis and advanced training in economic theory, econometrics and several traditional and novel applied fields of inquiry. Research programs are targeted to local, national and international problems and cover a broad spectrum, ranging from theoretical disciplinary perspectives to applied economic and policy analysis, as well as contributing to exciting multidisciplinary efforts. The department’s engagement with Iowa’s economy and community is rooted in its extension programs, and also benefits from the faculty’s participation in a number of affiliated centers. For more information,

About the Iowa State University Foundation

The Iowa State University Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University. For more information, visit

Peter Orazem, Economics, (515) 294-8656,
Joshua Rosenbloom, Economics, (515) 294-6740,
Trice Jacobson, Charles Koch Foundation, (202) 258-4035,
Brian Meyer, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, (515) 294-0705,