Photo of Heidi Bell

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has announced the 2013 award winners for its two special entrepreneur awards.

Heidi Bell, owner, From The Ground, Leon, is the 2013 Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award winner. Michael Sexton, founder/owner, Real Time Ag, LLC, Rockwell City, is the 2013 Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner.

The Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur Achievement Award honors an Iowa woman entrepreneur who has significantly changed or improved her life and the lives of others. The award is presented in memory of Deb Dalziel, a devoted small business advocate who was director of the Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Community College, Burlington, from 1987 until her death from cancer in 1999 at the age of 44.


Dave McLaren, director of the South Central Iowa Small Business Development Center, Creston, nominated Heidi Bell for the Deb Dalziel Award because not only is she a successful business owner, she is very active in her community, a supporter of rural economic development, and has given two other entrepreneurial women the opportunity to grow their businesses in Leon. Bell does all of this because she “wants to see Leon thrive, not just survive.”

The Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors an Iowa entrepreneur who has been in business a minimum of three years and has been significantly assisted by an Iowa Small Business Development Center. The award was established with a dual purpose—to honor long-time Iowa Congressman Neal Smith for his years of service to Iowa’s small businesses, and to recognize Iowa’s entrepreneurs, who are the driving force behind Iowa’s economic growth.

Lisa Shimkat, director of the North Central Iowa Small Business Development Center, Fort Dodge, nominated Mike Sexton for the Neal Smith Award, stating that he should be considered for this award because he is a true—heart and soul—entrepreneur. He is always looking for ways to make processes better and to find the right niche in the market and run with it. Aside from his business Mike is also heavily involved in his local school board and numerous other local volunteer committees within his community, plus he helps his wife grow her business.

Jim Heckmann, state director of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers agrees Bell and Sexton should be honored saying, “The Iowa Small Business Development Centers are delighted to recognize Heidi Bell and Mike Sexton for their hard work and entrepreneurial success with these two special awards. They, plus all small businesses in Iowa, are essential to Iowa’s economy and need to be supported and recognized for their dedication and excellence.”

The two special entrepreneur awards will be presented to the winners in a special ceremony on March 4, 2014, at the State Capitol in Des Moines.

The Iowa Small Business Development Center program is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s College of Business. Partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the organization has 15 regional assistance centers located strategically across the state and one international trade center located centrally. Since program inception in 1981, the Center has helped hundreds of thousands of Iowa businesses and entrepreneurs through free, customized, professional business counseling and practical, affordable training.

For more information on these two award programs and Iowa Small Business Development Center programs or services, call 515.294-2030 or visit