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Aging Services plans to develop Linn County Senior Center

This story is part of a series that will look at and profile each of the six startups in NewBoCo’s Fall 2018 accelerator programs.

In 2008, the Witwer Senior Center in Cedar Rapids was flooded and the city has not seen an adequate replacement since then.

Aging Services, a nonprofit organization that provides services and resources to help older adults remain independent, is looking to change that.

Aging Services was recently accepted into the Social Good Accelerator with plans to develop a new Linn County Senior Center.

“Since the senior flooded in 2008, the community has been trying to rally to get a senior center back, but unfortunately, that has not worked in our favor,” said Lindsay Glynn, Director of Program Development & Engagement at Aging Services. “The city hasn’t provided funding to make that happen. So we are really excited to part of the accelerator and officially develop a sustainable program and move forward with this project.”

Being accepted into the accelerator will allow for more strategic and focused approach in developing the center, Glynn told Clay & Milk.

“In the past, we’ve always concentrated on finding a building first and then trying to figure out the next step,” Glynn said. “Our approach now is different. We’re starting with a sustainability model, working with market research to see what people want happen, and then building around those first pieces. So our approach has dramatically changed.”

Glynn says that she hopes that the Linn County Senior Center will change the way people view senior centers in general.

“One of the things we’re really trying to work on is this image of a senior center and what it is,” Glynn said. “A lot of people have in their minds that its a place for people to go get free hot meals and play cards and that’s not necessarily what we’re talking about. We’re really talking about a place for active people to get together and stay engaged in the community and creating innovating programs to help do that.”

Aging Services plans to develop Linn County Senior Center | 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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