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Tim Cook is welcomed in Iowa

Tim Cook

A new home for innovation in America’s heartland brought Tim Cook to Des Moines Thursday afternoon.

Cook—the CEO of Apple—spoke for ten minutes at a press conference outside the Iowa State Capitol announcing plans for a $1.3 billion project in Waukee. Apple will build two data centers a mile West of Waukee that are powered completely by renewable energy.

These data centers serve users of iMessage, Siri, the App Store and other Apple services.

The project was approved unanimously Thursday morning by the Waukee City Council and Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The press conference served as a celebration.

Cook said across Iowa, businesses, schools, developers and government are coming together.

And Apple has taken notice.


“At Apple, we admire what you guys have accomplished,” Cook said. “And we want to be apart of it.”

Cook announced that in addition to the $1.3 billion investment in the data center at Waukee, Apple will also invest $100 million in a newly created Public Improvement Fund dedicated to Waukee community development and infrastructure.

“After all, you are putting your faith in us, and we believe that ought to be a two-way street,” Cook says.

The fund will build and revitalize the infrastructure that supports streets and sidewalks, libraries and parks. The first project constructed will be a youth sports complex.

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Cook said Apple has 30 suppliers in Iowa they use for parts to their products; Apple has 9,000 suppliers and manufacturers in the United States of America.

After the press release Cook and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visited the Waukee Apex building.

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Apple will open data center in Waukee

Tim Cook is welcomed in Iowa | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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