The Entrepreneurial/Transactional Clinic (ETC) has partnered with the State of Iowa to help develop the State’s Rural Iowa Employee Ownership Initiative. The project goals are to improve current Iowa laws that affect rural entrepreneurs and encourage employee-ownership models for rural business succession. The ETC’s work will directly support rural communities and help keep businesses in Iowa. 

The ETC developed a special track for this project so rural Iowa employee ownership specialists can focus on project objectives as well as represent other rural Iowa businesses and organizations. Second-year students Melissa Curry and Emily Barrett served as summer research assistants providing an important foundation for work this fall. Third-year students Mackinzie Daughton and Nicole Lancaster were elected “student attorney specialists” for the initiative. Debra Rectenbaugh Pettit joined the ETC faculty to serve as the Rural Iowa Employee Ownership Coordinator. Debra, a former shareholder at Dentons Davis Brown and former general counsel for a rural Iowa locomotive design manufacturer, has a unique understanding of the need for succession planning alternatives for rural Iowa businesses. 

A highlight of the project was a trip to the State Capitol early in the semester. ETC students and faculty met with Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, a 2009 alumnus of Drake Law School, to present a white paper addressing legislative matters related to rural employee ownership.  

“We were fortunate to bring such a dedicated team together early in the process,” said Nick Roby, director of the ETC. “Under the direction of Debra Pettit and her extensive experience and knowledge, the team has made an immediate impact. “ 

Debra welcomed the opportunity to be a part of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative – and looked forward to working with student attorneys. “I truly enjoyed mentoring Mackinzie and Nicole to help them develop skills and insights to become leaders in this area.”  

“I learned so much from collaborating with Debra, Mackinzie, and the other attorneys on this project,” said Nicole. “It was great to be part of this close-knit ETC team.”  

“Putting my education in action to help rural businesses has been really rewarding,” said Mackinzie. “I plan to continue to work to encourage businesses to stay in rural communities.”