Iowa City Area Development Group launches Youth Entrepreneurship Ambassador Program

August 15, 2022 |

IOWA CITY, IA — The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) is proud to announce a new Youth Entrepreneurship Ambassador program.

Himani Laroia, a rising senior at Iowa City West High School, joined ICAD earlier this summer for a two-week internship where she researched opportunities to better engage area youth in entrepreneurship initiatives in Johnson County. In her presentation at the end of the internship, she pitched her ideas to the ICAD team, which included the idea of forming an official Youth Entrepreneurship Ambassador position. In this pitch, she proposed that she take on the inaugural role for this position.

“As the first Youth Entrepreneurship Ambassador, I hope to shed a light on business and entrepreneurial resources within the Iowa City Community and get our area youth excited to explore opportunities within this space,” said Laroia.

Laroia has experience launching and running her own business, an online Bollywood fusion dance academy for children, at the height of the pandemic in March 2020. Being a minority business owner, she wants to uplift existing minority entrepreneurial voices that may have been overlooked in the larger Iowa City area with social media efforts. Laroia believes that social media will be an integral part of her ambassadorship as it links MERGE’s valuable resources to a larger audience – especially teenagers. She already has produced several TikTok videos and Instagram posts under the handle @icmerge. 

Laroia is working on developing ways to enhance MERGE’s existing successful collaborations, such as Design Dash, a fast-paced entrepreneurial competition for Iowa high school students. Additionally, Laroia plans on implementing collaborative spaces for students across Iowa with an informal business curriculum. 

“Throughout her time with ICAD, Himani has blown us away with her enthusiasm and innovative ideas for how we can better engage local youth in our local entrepreneurial ecosystem. We can’t wait to see her bring these ideas to fruition as we turn her two-week internship into something more permanent during her Senior Year of high school.” – Liz Hubing, Director of Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement, Iowa City Area Development Group

In the future, Laroia intends to create a formal application process to induct the next Merge Youth Entrepreneurship Ambassador and hopes to create a longstanding tradition in the community.