The Middle Bit: The week of Jan. 9

(Photo via Startup Stock Photos.com)

Each week, Clay & Milk will curate a rundown of startup, tech and innovation news from “the middle.” Check back every Friday for that week’s Middle Bit.

Colorado

Uber will test cash payments for the first time in the U.S. in Colorado Springs, with a roll out to other cities planned in the future. Via The Colorado Springs Gazette

Illinois

Instead of “unicorns,” some in Chicago are arguing the city’s tech community needs more “redwoods,” or startups that go public and grow far beyond the $1 billion mark used to describe unicorns. Via The Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation

Mac & Mia, a concierge service for children’s clothes (think Trunk Club for kids), raised a $3 million investment round. Via The Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation

Iowa

Mother Jones recently took a deep dive into the growth of aquaculture venture VeroBlue Farms in Webster City. Via Mother Jones

Gov. Terry Branstad kicked off speculation that Amazon is looking to construct a physical location in Iowa due to the Internet retailer’s decision to being collect sales tax from orders made in the state. Via The Des Moines Register

Michigan

FarmLogs, which recently expanded in Des Moines, raised a $22 million Series C. The company’s CEO, Jesse Vollmar, also told AgFunder News he’s not interested in selling the company to a big agriculture company. Via AgFunder News/Crain’s Detroit Business

Uber plans to build an autonomous vehicle research center in Wixom, Michigan. Via The Detroit Free Press

Missouri & Kansas

Kansas City-based investment group Mid-America Angel Network announced that it invested $3.6 million in 15 deals last year. Via Startland News

Five Elms Capital, an investment group in Kansas City, announced it led a $7.4 million round in San Diego-based security firm Trackforce. Via Startland News

A Silicon Prairie News contributor highlighted some of the growing startup efforts in Wichita, Kansas. Via Silicon Prairie News

North Dakota

A site started by the “Guru of Geek” in Mandan, North Dakota is helping to shine a light on the state’s technology scene, The Bismarck Tribune reports. Via The Bismarck Tribune

Wisconsin

Milwaukee-based insurance firm Northwestern Mutual announced it would establish its own $50 million venture fund to invest in startups working on ways to “transform how consumers experience and achieve financial security.” Investments will range from $500,000 to $3 million. Via Insurance Networking News/press release

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at mpatane@clayandmilk.com.