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Alquist 3D to build 200 3D-printed homes in Virginia

Alquist 3D, a 3D-printing construction firm based in Iowa, has announced plans to build 200 homes in the state of Virginia. 

The initiative — dubbed Project Virginia — will see the development of 200 homes across the state over 3-years beginning this summer. Alquist kicked off the project with a demonstration near the site of the first two 3D printed homes in Pulaski, Virginia on Friday, April 29. 

Alquist chose Pulaski, Virginia due to the area’s heightened demand for housing as a result of more than 3,000 new jobs that will be created in the area with the presence of Volvo, Blue Star Manufacturing, and American Glove. In addition, Virginia’s New River Valley was identified as having one of the highest growth rates in the country for tech jobs, which will also drive demand for housing in this area. 

Project Virginia follows Alquist’s recent Habitat for Humanity project in Williamsburg, Virginia, a 1,200-square-foot, three-bed, two-bathroom home, whose exterior shell was printed in just 22 hours. The company claims that this was the first owner-occupied, 3D-printed home in the world and Habitat for Humanity’s first 3D-printed home in the country.

The company was founded six years ago by Zachary Mannheimer. Prior to founding Alquist, Mannheimer spent the last decade doing revitalization and economic development projects in rural communities around the country through his other company, called Atlas Community Studios.

“The number one issue in every community we went to was housing, regardless of size or location. So for the past six years, we’ve tried to figure out how do we create how do we help solve the housing crisis,” said Mannheimer. “In our opinion, there are only two ways to do it. One, companies need to pay their employees more to afford the rising costs. Two, we lower the cost of building homes. Ideally, both of those happen, but since we have no control over the first piece, we looked at how to drop the cost. I discovered 3D-printing about six years ago, got obsessed with it, and learned everything I could. Building housing that is affordable is the mission of Alquist.”

Alquist 3D to build 200 3D-printed homes in Virginia | 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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