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John Deere producing 225,000 face shields for healthcare workers

John Deere last week announced plans to make 225,000 protective face shields to be distributed to healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Company officials announced Thursday that production of 25,000 face shields began Wednesday at the John Deere Seeding Group in Moline, while materials and supplies have been ordered to make 200,000 more.

The first batch of personal protective equipment will be delivered to 16 U.S. Deere factories in eight states, including those in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, as well as the company’s U.S. Deere-Hitachi factory for local distribution.

The company’s announcement comes as a response to nationwide calls for more personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our manufacturing and supply management teams, along with our production and maintenance employees, the UAW, and our partners have worked tirelessly to ensure we could lend our support and protect our health-care workers during this crisis,” said John May, CEO of Deere & Company in a press release. “By working closely with the communities where our employees live and work, we can help support the needs we’ve identified close to home and, as the project expands, address additional, urgent needs across the country.”

John Deere is also working on other projects to help combat COVID-19. The company has developed 3D-printed clips can be affixed to a standard baseball cap and used to hold a protective face shield in place. The company is now sharing the 3D printing specs for the clips.

Other projects include clear plastic screens to separate production employees at their work stations a hand-held device small enough to fit in a pocket and that can be used to open doors and push buttons without bringing the user’s hand in direct contact with either.

Employees in Waterloo are working on a simple system of adhesive dots that can be placed on the floor to show employees how far apart they should be standing for safe social distancing.

Previous coverage

Entrepreneurs around the state step up to fill need for medical equipment -March 25, 2020

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John Deere producing 225,000 face shields for healthcare workers | 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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