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Proposed bill would incentivize new remote workers in Iowa

Last Friday marked the first “funnel” deadline of the 2021 session, which requires bills to pass through a full committee in either the House or Senate to move forward. One of the proposed bills that is still alive, Senate File 491, would incentivize remote workers to move to the state.

The bill would create and make appropriations for a remote worker grant fund for new remote workers who move to Iowa but are employed by out-of-state companies.

Under the bill, a new remote worker would be eligible for a grant for qualifying remote worker expenses in an amount not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year. A new remote worker is eligible for a grant for a maximum of two calendar years.

The bill defines a “new remote worker” as an individual who is a full-time employee of a business that has its primary place of business outside of Iowa, and who performs the majority of their duties for the business remotely from a home office or a coworking space located in Iowa.

“Qualifying remote worker expenses” is defined in the bill as actual, substantiated costs that a new remote worker incurs for relocation. Examples of this include membership costs for a coworking space, new computer software and hardware, and broadband access or upgrades. The expenses must be necessary to perform the remote worker’s employment duties and cannot also be reimbursed by the employer.

The bill would require the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to establish a new remote worker grant fund for the purpose of providing grants to new remote workers. The IEDA would be required by the bill to award grants on a first-come, first-served basis. Total grant funding must not exceed $750,000 in calendar year 2022, $350,000 in 2023, $400,000 in 2024, $450,000 in 2025, and $500,000 in 2026. To the extent funds remain available in subsequent calendar years, total grants could not exceed $200,000 in any calendar year. 

In order to apply for the grant, individuals would need to become full-time residents after January 1, 2022.

Proposed bill would incentivize new remote workers in 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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