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Greater Des Moines Partnership launches online hub for small businesses and startups

The Greater Des Moines Partnership recently revealed its top priorities for 2019. One of the five priorities listed was furthering their commitment to Des Moines’ small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As part of that commitment, the Partnership has launched the Small Business Resources Hub, an online site for entrepreneurs looking to learn more about how to help their small business or startup. The new, online hub will have all of the Partnership’s small business and startup resources in one place.

“There was a common theme of a lot of these resources not being that accessible and us not having a great way to catalog them,” said Christina Moffatt, Director of Small Business Resources at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.”The hub brings a lot of these resources and information together for people to be able to easily find.”

Square One DSM branding will no longer exist and all its services and content can now be found on the Small Business Resource Hub, including the Raising Capital Seminar and the “Small Business and Startup Stories” podcast.

“Last year we did some research and came to the conclusion that there were a lot of resources that people weren’t taking advantage of, both on the small business side of things and the startup side of things. The hub kind of sprung out of that,” Moffatt said. “Doing that consisted of bringing all of these resources back under one roof as The Partnership and doing away with Square One branding so all of us have access to those same resources.”

The Partnership will continue to add more content and resources to the hub as events throughout the year.

“Anytime we do anything in house [The Partnership], there will a blog that goes along with that and the event will be recorded. All of that will then go back and get categorized on the hub,” Moffatt said. “So there’s constantly going to be new information added to the site.”

Partnership Mentor Connection

The Partnership also recently started “Partnership Mentor Connection,” a program where founders of small businesses and startups can connect with mentors throughout the Greater Des Moines area.

“People in business need different mentors for different things,” Moffatt said. “Making sure that they’re actually getting to the person that can really help them is key.”

Greater Des Moines Partnership launches online hub for small businesses and 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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