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Gov. Reynolds unveils commercial driver’s license test prep app

Iowa CDL Mobile App

What used to be a booklet has become an app.

In her first press conference of the 2018 legislative session, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Transportation unveiled a mobile app for commercial driver’s license prep. The app is available for free to anyone with an Iowa driver’s license or ID card and is available for IOS, Android and desktops. It features 72 practice tests and the official CDL Manual.

The Iowa CDL Test Prep guide is the federal CDL manual converted to an app.

“I continuously challenge state agencies to find ways to modernize our government products and services,” Reynolds said. “In doing so, we increase access to our citizens by offering those products and services in ways that make it easier for people to use them.”

Iowa-City based Higher Learning Technologies developed the app.

“The Iowa DOT has accepted that challenge,” Reynolds said. “By developing the CDL test app, the Iowa DOT recognizes how Iowa people learn and that their lifestyles have changed. Studying from a written manual didn’t really meet peoples needs, so they adjusted.”

The app will hopefully address an issue finding and attracting certified truck drivers. Don Egli—the Director of Safety for the Iowa Motor Truck Association—said the driver shortage issue is a, “Very serious problem.”

He said there are a number of factors for the shortage, mainly drivers must be 21 to drive on the interstate and insurance companies won’t cover drivers until they are 23.

“The people we see coming into the industry are in the mid-40’s and have been displaced from another industry,” Egli said. “We need to get that message out there and this app will really help that.”

And because Higher Learning Technologies has developed apps for other industries such as retail, education and dentists, Reynolds said it is, “Limitless” as to what can be converted from paper to app.

“It’s really about finding ways to meet people where they’re at,” Reynolds said. “The Iowa Department of Transportation has really done a great job of trying to meet those needs. They’re an example that other agencies—who do a good job too—can follow.”

Gov. Reynolds unveils commercial driver's license test prep app | 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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