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Middle Bit: Greater Des Moines Partnership announces series of public forums on broadband access

The Greater Des Moines Partnership has announced a series of online public forums on issues affecting broadband access and adoption in the region.

The goal of the forums is to hear directly from residents about how broadband has impacted their lives in four vital areas: rural broadband, remote learning, remote work and remote health care.

  • The Rural Broadband Experience (Thursday, May 6 at Noon)
    This session will explore why there are broadband challenges in rural areas and discuss ways to solve those challenges.
  • The Challenges of Learning from Home (Thursday, May 6 at 4 p.m.)
    This session will explore how these issues have impacted learning, discuss some of the ways parents and students have coped with these limitations, and discuss how filling the region’s broadband gaps can help remote learning into the future.
  • Getting Care from Anywhere — Telehealth in Central Iowa (Monday, May 10 at 2 p.m.)
    This session will explore how telehealth is impacting the lives of persons in the area and discuss how it will continue to evolve.
  • Remote Work Challenges and Opportunities (Tuesday, May 11 at 10 a.m.)
    This session will explore the impact of broadband connectivity on the ability to work remotely. Presenters will discuss how remote work opportunities are helping many Iowans supplement their incomes, allowing them to benefit from the digital economy. They will also discuss the vital role that broadband plays in entrepreneurship.

Additionally, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has extended the submission period for the Central Iowa Broadband Internet Survey to Friday, May 14. The Broadband Internet Survey will help create a clear picture of consumers’ experience with broadband internet service across the region and help identify areas that do not currently meet consumer needs and expectations. There are two separate survey links at one for residential households and one for businesses.

Input from the public forums and the Central Iowa Broadband Internet Survey will help guide solutions for improved internet in the region. More details on the public forums, including the list of panelists, is listed on The Partnership’s website.

EntreFEST speakers announced

EntreFEST is coming back this summer as a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual tickets available. 

The activities kick off with ISA Launch Night on Wednesday, June 9, followed by two days of presentations, speakers, and business networking opportunities. More than 65 speakers are scheduled to discuss topics in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. 

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference are Marcus  Bullock, CEO & Founder of Flikshop; Taryn Southern, an award-winning artist and strategist; and Sarika Bhakta & Anthony Arrington, hosts of the Diversity Straight Up podcast.

There are a limited number of in-person tickets. Click here to see all of this year’s announced speakers.

Prometheus Awards set for Nov. 4

The Technology Association of Iowa has announced that the Prometheus Awards will return as an in-person event this fall.

Call for Nominations will open on May 24th, 2021.  Award winners will be announced at T=the Prometheus Awards dinner on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Downtown Des Moines.

Middle Bit: Greater Des Moines Partnership announces series of public forums on broadband access | 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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