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Middle Bit: SelectQuote to add 100+ new positions at West Des Moines office

SelectQuote announced plans last week to hire more than 100 new employees in West Des Moines as Iowa’s unemployment claims continue to soar from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SelectQuote said it is filling the positions as part of a plan to add more than 1,000 more staffers across the company. The company, based in Overland Park, Kansas, provides insurance price comparisons. The company is looking to fill positions to start as early as May 2020.

SelectQuote hopes that the opening of new roles will help alleviate some financial pressure for those who may have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

FarmlandFinder and Ag-Analytics partner to increase access to land sale data

FarmlandFinder and Ag-Analytics are partnering to increase access to land sale data through an on-demand Farmland Sales Data Feed and API.

“This innovative partnership with FarmlandFinder will allow users to easily access detailed information from tens of thousands of listings to scale their analytics. This will help the ag community more easily assess market conditions and trends to find the best values in the market from an independent data source”, said Josh Woodard, CEO of Ag-Analytics. “We don’t engage in brokering real estate deals and have no farmland investment interests, so are in the best position as an independent third-party to provide this information to the ag community.”

The data feed includes current farmland listings as well as historical sales & auction results to provide growers and analysts with advanced market insights. The data are collected from tens of thousands of public records and structured to enable easy geospatial analysis. The data feed primarily covers twelve states across the Midwestern US.

“Every industry that experiences digitization and connectedness is better able to serve the people who play in that sandbox. With farmland real estate, it’s no different. That is why we’re excited to partner with Ag-Analytics to bring real-time market data to help growers and land professionals better make data-driven decisions,” said Steven Brockshus, CEO of FarmlandFinder.

Cedar Rapids entrepreneur creates directory of Cedar Rapids businesses to support during COVID-19

Cedar Rapids entrepreneur Uzir Thapa has created a website to support the Cedar Rapids area businesses.

Save Local Bites is a directory of Corridor Area restaurants and coffee shops that offer online gift cards for purchase. It’s our hope that by providing this resource, we’ll be able to mobilize loyal customers to provide much-needed support for their favorite places in town. We also link to staff donation sites, if they are available.

Restaurant owners can also add their website or gift card link in the app if they would like.

At Clay & Milk, we want to tell stories about the many ways entrepreneurs and startups are stepping up to combat coronavirus. Fill out this form to tell us your story and we will be in touch.

Middle Bit: SelectQuote to add 100+ new positions at West Des Moines office | 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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