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Middle Bit: The Atlantic hosting a panel in Des Moines focused on the future of the heartland

The Atlantic, a digital publication and magazine, will host a one-day event looking at the current state and the future of the heartland. The event will consist of a panel of local and national leaders appearing in Des Moines Sept. 20 at Curate.

The event will gather policy makers, business and community leaders for an in-depth conversation on what the future holds for the Midwest.

Some of the more notable speakers at the event will include Steve Case, founder of AOL, Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large for the Atlantic and Des Moines Mayor, Frank Crownie.

Click here for the full list of speakers, the agenda and to register for the event.

ISU Startup Factory taking applications

Applications are now being accepted for Cohort 6 of the ISU Startup Factory, a 52 week accelerator program that runs new cohorts twice per year. The deadline to apply is October 30.

Click here to download the application for Cohort 6.

What else is happening?

Kansas, the Utah-based online retailer of surplus and new merchandise, has signed a large lease on a distribution center in Kansas City, Kan. where it plans to employ more than 100 workers. The company leased 517,000 square feet at a distribution center at 5300 Kansas Ave., which was made available when the previous tenant, automobile logistics company Comprehensive Logistics, moved to the Fairfax District in KCK. –Kansas City Star


WeWork announced that it has acquired Salt Lake City startup Teem as the coworking startup continues its quest to prove itself as a tech company. Wired was the first to report on the news. According to Wired’s two sources, WeWork spent about $100 million on the deal. When reached by VentureBeat, a WeWork spokesperson declined to comment on the size of the deal. –Venture Beat


Middle Bit: The Atlantic hosting a panel in Des Moines focused on the future of the heartland | 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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