Mason City MicroEnterprise Program

Building a Culture of Entrepreneurship


A grant reimbursement program of the City Council of Mason City

Administered By: Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center


About the Program:
Sustainable growth is important to all businesses and small businesses are critical to their communities.

In Cerro Gordo County, 83% of the businesses have 5 or fewer full-time employee equivalents. They also have the fewest federal, state and local programs to help grow their businesses.

The Mason City MicroEnterprise Program was commissioned by the City Council to help small resident businesses that want to grow. The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and Small Business Development Center at North Iowa Area Community College is the program administrator.

Participating businesses can receive reimbursement for pre-approved goods and/or services purchased within the city limits of Mason City. Maximum reimbursement is up to 50% of the annual property tax paid on the underlying property in use by the business (business does not have to own the building, but its prorated occupancy of the building is the determining factor) for three years.

For example, a qualifying local business that rents half of a building that pays $5,000 in property taxes would be eligible for up to $1,250 of reimbursement annually for three years.



  • The business must be for-profit.
  • The business must own or lease commercial space in the city limits of Mason City (No home-based businesses).
  • The business must have less than nine full-time equivalent employees in the twelve months prior to entering the program.
  • The business must have been in business less than 5 years or have under $500,000 in annual revenues.

There is no truly ‘free’ money. As a condition of getting taxpayer funds:

  • The business must submit an application for the program with a proposed use of funds.
  • The business must successfully complete an approved entrepreneurial training program within six months after approval.
  • The business must have their financials on Quickbooks® or other approved accounting system.
  • The business must meet with a counselor from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center or the Small Business Development Center approximately every 90 days during their participation to confidentially review financial reports and business progress.
  • The business must submit receipts from pre-approved purchases of goods and/or services from Mason City businesses in order to receive reimbursement (Online purchases are not eligible).

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does this program benefit me and my business?
The Small Business Development Center has been active in North Central Iowa for over 25 years and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center for 15 years. Our experience is that businesses and business owners which receive training and regular counseling have a higher probability of long term success.

The counselors may also identify other optional programs and other optional training opportunities that can help the business.


Does my confidential information stay confidential?


How can I get more information and apply?
Download the entire Mason City MicroEnterprise Program brochure and application


You can also contact the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and Small Business Development Center at North Iowa Area Community College at 641.422.4111 or


What can I get reimbursed for?
There is no specific list, but the program is looking for locally available goods and/or services that will benefit both the applying business and the community. This would include:

  • Payroll for an additional employee or employees
  • Training – including topics like
  • Entrepreneurship/Small Business
    • Web-based Marketing
    • Supervision
    • Establishing an Internet Presence
    • Exporting
  • Leasehold Improvements – including new fascia and signs
  • Energy Efficiency Improvements
  • Production and Business Equipment
  • Inventory