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Iowa allocates $15 million to broadband providers throughout the state

The state of Iowa has awarded 14 broadband providers with $15,542,302 in Empower Rural Iowa broadband grants made possible through allocation of federal CARES funding.

The grants will impact 21 Iowa counties and more than 2,800 homes, schools and businesses.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic only underscored the need for fast, reliable, and accessible broadband,” said Gov. Reynolds in a press release. “This investment goes directly to projects that are in significant broadband deserts. While today’s allocation will help improve broadband in more communities, we can do better. Iowa must have universal broadband access to compete and succeed in the 21st century, which is why I’m working with the legislature for significant funding over the next three years that will ensure access for all Iowans by 2025.”   

This latest grant round shows the demand for broadband grants in Iowa. More than 42 providers applied with applications valued at more than $41 million. That is nearly a three-to-one ratio of funds requested to funds available.

The 14 awards ranged largely in size. The smallest award was a $140,000 grant to South Slope Cooperative, a telecommunications company based in North Liberty. Last October, South Slope won a $5.4 million dollar award from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand broadband service in rural areas. The largest award was a $4.5 million grant to Allamakee Clayton Electric, a member-owned electric cooperative delivering broadband to northeast Iowa. On average, each grantee received just over $1.1 million in funding.

Below are the 14 broadband providers that received funding.

Applicant NameApplication (click to download)Funds Awards
Allamakee Clayton ElectricOCIO#5 Dorchester Fiber$4,584,200.45
Alpine CommunicationsAlpine Communications Rural Clayton County ELKADER W NOFA #005$1,298,737.90
BTC, IncGlenwood South$1,530,621.90
Citizen’s Mutual Telephone CooperativeRural Wapello and Davis Counties Broadband Expansion$743,550.00
IAMO CommunicationsCollege Springs East FTTP Project$1,089,150.00
Kalona CooperativeRural Washington County$229,552.37
LTD BroadbandLTD Broadband Grant Application – Area 2$181,568.25
Mediapolis Telephone CompanyRural Des Moines County Broadband Expansion$725,475.00
Omnitel CommunicationsRural Fremont and Mills Counties Broadband Expansion$241,139.69
Omnitel CommunicationsRural Madison and Warren Counties Broadband Expansion$884,026.84
South Slope CooperativePhase 2 of Rural Iowa and Johnson Counties FTTP Project$140,500.00
Spring Grove CommunicationsSpring Grove Communications – Hanover Township FTTP$592,279.60
Stratford MutualCentral Iowa Broadband Expansion$1,521,075.00
USA CommunicationsNorth Iowa River Corridor Broadband Expansion$1,690,425.00

The $15 million is the remainder of the $50 million in CARES funding Gov. Reynolds designated for broadband grants from a previous round of funding. All broadband projects that receeived grant funding must be completed by December 1, 2021.

The full list of applicants can be found here.

Previous coverage

FCC awards over $143 Million to Iowa Broadband Providers -Dec. 22, 2020

South Slope receives $5.4 million award to expand rural broadband -Oct. 15, 2020

Expanding Broadband Access Across Iowa -Sept. 9, 2020

Iowa allocates $15 million to broadband providers throughout the state | 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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