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‘10,000 Small Businesses’ is coming to Iowa

10,000 Small Businesses, a program that provides training and resources to early-stage businesses, is coming to Iowa for the first time beginning in January 2019.

Accepted applicants will receive hands-on education for business growth, access to highly-trained, small business professionals and an expanded peer network of small business owners from across the country. The program is provided at no cost and offered in partnership with DMACC and Iowa’s other community colleges.

The program will consist of two three-month cohorts of 40 participants each. The first cohort will begin in January and the second will begin in April.

“We were chosen because of our central Iowa location, but also because we have a history of leading statewide large projects with the other community colleges,” Rob Denson, President of DMACC said. “And Iowa’s community colleges are unique in that we work together extremely well. We realize that what’s good for one section of Iowa is good for the entire state.”

Eligible businesses have to have been in operation for at least two years, have at least $100,000 in revenues and employ at least two employees.

The program currently operates in 16 cities across the U.S. through a network of more than 100 academic and community partners, and the program continues to expand. This will be the first time that the program has been done statewide.

“We look at this as a tremendous opportunity for the state of Iowa to be able to provide this kind of training for small business owners,” Karen Stiles, Business Solutions Consultant at DMACC said.

Qualified prospects can apply online and gather additional information about the program. Applications for the first cohort are due by Monday, Oct. 15.

'10,000 Small Businesses' is coming to 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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