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Iowa Center for Economic Success opens second location in Muscatine

Iowa Center for Economic Success (The Iowa Center) was recently awarded a 3-year $295,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The grant will support the statewide expansion of The Iowa Center to Muscatine and the surrounding areas.

The Iowa Center focuses on offering support to local small businesses, including one-on-one counseling sessions or group classes, access to capital through loans reaching up to $50,000 and networking opportunities for its clients. Services that the Iowa Center will now begin to offer to Muscatine businesses.

“It is our belief that to be successful in small business one needs support in education, capital, and networking. We provide that support through 1:1 counseling sessions, group classes, networking opportunities, access to capital, and many other services. Through this grant we will now have boots on the ground in the city of Muscatine and surrounding areas to support small business in that region, ” said Megan Milligan, President + CEO, Iowa Center for Economic Success We are grateful to the community of Muscatine as well as the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine and the Muscatine Community College for their willingness to collaborate with us on this opportunity.

The Iowa Center has hired a Client Services Coordinator, Jordan Lloyd, who will be officing out of Muscatine Community College. Jordan will be available to meet with clients in person, over zoom, and phone, and facilitating meetings, events, classes, and coaching sessions.

“We are eager to work with the team at Iowa Center for Economic Success in building up and supporting the diverse entrepreneurs within our community. Muscatine is brighter and stronger for its rich diversity,” said Naomi DeWinter, President of Muscatine Community College. “With the help of The Iowa Center and the generous gift from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, we will be able to focus efforts to grow small and family businesses which are minority-owned. These efforts can serve to lift up all small businesses in Muscatine county.”

Iowa Center for Economic Success opens second location in Muscatine | 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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