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Solar shipping company PVpallet receives IEDA funding to establish headquarters in Lee County

PVpallet, a company that manufactures sustainable shipping options for solar modules, has announced plans to establish its headquarters in Lee County, creating an estimated 26 jobs.

The Lee County Economic Development Group has been incubating PVpallet in its Montrose facility but now has plans to expand. Lee County will become the operations hub for PVpallet, including assembly, warehousing, and distribution, according to a release from the Lee County EDG.

PVpallet has developed a sustainable shipping option for solar modules to replace traditional wood pallets. The reusable pallets are made from recycled plastic and they reduce wood waste and module breakage.

Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board awarded the company $350,000 in loans and tax benefits to help fund the project through its High Quality Jobs (HJQ) program. As part of the IDEA program, Lee County is also providing a 20% match in the amount of a $70,000 loan. The project represents a $16.2 million capital investment in total.

“As PVpallet moves into full-scale production in 2022, the team at PVpallet is thrilled that these relationships with IEDA and Lee County will allow the company to enrich its new home community and benefit its neighbors. “PVpallet is humbled and grateful for the support from Lee County and the IEDA,” saiic Philip Schwarz, Co-founder and CEO of PVpallet in a news release. “We envision Lee County as a growing hub for domestic renewable energy, and we are excited to bring more industry, jobs, and infrastructure development to this wonderful community and its people.”

Solar shipping company PVpallet receives IEDA funding to establish headquarters in Lee County | 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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