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Governor Reynolds: Trying to ease the way for startups

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced a renewed commitment to eliminate red tape and excessive regulations from state government Tuesday and three initiatives to decrease regulations and ease the burden on small business and startups.

The initiatives were announced after new research was released showing the state of Iowa has 160,000 restrictions, ranking fifth among 20 states studied by the Mercatus Center. The data suggests Iowa’s administrative code is overly burdensome to business and industry and impacts growing the economy.

She said that while legislators create legislation with good intentions, small businesses and startups do not have the resources to research, implement and comply with the regulations currently in place.

“We want to encourage them to grow and expand in the state,” Reynolds said.

The three initiatives Reynolds highlighted to decrease regulations was the jobs impact statement—initiated by former Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011—a 5-year review of rules, and the Iowa Administrative Rules tool that allows Iowans to comment on any rule in the Notice process.

The jobs impact statement mandates a statement be made by an administrative agency when it proposes a new rule to the Administrative Rules Committee. The statement should include any costs to the state, local governments, public or regulated industries and positive or negative impacts on private sector jobs.

The first review of rules is coming to fruition this year and will ensure there are no regulation duplications from the federal government and are appropriate adjustments for current technologies.

Laura Jones—a visiting research fellow at the Mercatus Center—said excess regulations negatively impact job creation and the economy.

“The first step in moderation in rule-making is knowing how many rules there are,” Jones said.

Mike Ralston—president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry—said regulations are part of doing business but cost Iowa companies millions of dollars each year.

“The great thing about regulatory reform is it is an impactful issue,” Ralston said. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s not very sexy or glamorous, but it has a lot of impact in the business world.”

To view the Iowa data, click here.

Morgan Garner covers the Iowa Statehouse for Clay & Milk


Governor Reynolds: Trying to ease the way for startups | 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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