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Economic Development Board approves awards to support almost $75 million in capital investments in Iowa

DES MOINES, IA – The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to four companies for job creation and expansion projects. Today’s awards will assist in the creation of 229 jobs and will result in almost $75 million in new capital investment for the state. The board also approved innovation funding for four startups.

The board approved assistance for planned or proposed projects located in Ankeny, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Des Moines, Iowa City, Muscatine and West Des Moines.

Advanced Analytical to expand operations in Ankeny
Advanced Analytical Technologies, Inc. (AATI) develops, manufactures and markets high-throughput, fully-automated nucleic acid and genetic analysis systems. Due to rapid growth in sales, AATI has outgrown their existing facility in Ames. The board has approved $500,000 in direct financial assistance as well as tax incentives for the company through the High Quality Jobs program (HQJP). The company plans to lease space at the LGI Business Park in Ankeny as part of its $2 million capital investment. The project is expected to create 57 jobs at a qualifying wage of $25.52 per hour.

Hy-Vee receives assistance for expansion project in West Des Moines
Hy-Vee, headquartered in West Des Moines, is an employee-owned chain of 235 supermarkets located throughout Iowa and the Midwest. The company is planning to expand its conference center and office space in West Des Moines. The board awarded Hy-Vee tax benefits via HQJP for this $70 million capital investment that is expected to create 102 jobs at a qualifying wage of $25.52 per hour.

Pillar Technology to open regional office in Des Moines
Pillar Technology Group, LLC is a high-tech computer software consulting firm that expands the boundaries of traditional software creation. It uses an innovative approach called “Speed to Value” and serves a broad range of companies from Fortune 500 to start-ups. Pillar does this work through an innovation center called the Forge. Pillar Technology Group, LLC has facilities in Ohio, Michigan and Silicon Valley and is considering opening a regional office in Des Moines. The company is planning a $450,000 capital investment that includes leasing office space. The board approved $200,000 in direct financial assistance from HQJP for this project that is expected to create 40 jobs at a qualifying hourly wage of $25.52.

Union Tank Car considers Muscatine for expansion project
Union Tank Car Company (UTLX) is a Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway Company. At its Muscatine location, UTLX inspects and qualifies railroad tank cars, performing necessary cleaning and mechanical repairs. The cars are sand blasted and painted. The Muscatine plant also offers state-of-the-art interior coatings, which protect the steel tank shells from corrosion and commodities like corn syrup from contamination. UTLX’s proposed project represents a $1.9 million capital investment and involves increasing the Muscatine facility’s coating capacity. The project is expected to retain 20 jobs and create 10 jobs at a qualifying wage of $17.06 per hour.

Awards made to four start-ups
The Demonstration Fund provides financial and technical assistance to encourage high-technology prototype and concept development activities that have a clear potential to lead to commercially viable products or services within a reasonable period of time.

The fund provides financial assistance to encourage commercialization activities by small and medium-sized Iowa companies in the advanced manufacturing, biosciences and information technology industries. The primary purpose of the fund is to help businesses with a high-growth potential reach a position where they are able to attract later-stage, private-sector funding.

The Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) Fund provides financial assistance to innovative businesses that are pursuing proof of commercial relevance and marketability of a technology. The fund is designed to assist businesses with new technologies that have completed the proof of concept stage and are ready to be subjected to the rigors of the proof of commercial relevance stage that includes defining the market for the product and perfecting the product to meet market needs.

Award recommendations for these funds are made by the Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC) to the IEDA Board for approval.

EcoEngineers was founded five years ago and is located in downtown Des Moines. The company provides compliance and market access solutions to the renewable energy industry. They also perform carbon analysis of fuels, and they ensure product quality for the energy credit markets. EcoEngineers, in partnership with IEDA and Iowa State University, launched the Iowa Biomass Assessment Tool (IBAM) last year. This tool serves as a foundation to evaluate the economic potential of Anaerobic Digester (AD) projects. The IBAM tool demonstrates that Iowa has a large supply of biomass that can potentially be converted to biogas and pipeline quality renewable natural gas to be used as transportation fuel. However, it does not evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of such investments at any specific site. As a result, the company needs to conduct detailed feasibility studies at specific sites to prove the potential monetary and economic value of the AD industry in Iowa. The company was awarded a $25,000 grant through the Demonstration Fund for these studies.

Immortagen is a consortium of world-class researchers and healthcare professionals seeking to personalize cancer treatment through tumor banking, genetic profiling, Clinical Decision Support algorithms and better models for drug research and development. Immortagen was established in 2014 by a team of researchers from the University of Iowa, with future operations at the BioVentures Center in Coralville. The board awarded Immortagen a $25,000 POCR grant to refine their go to market plan.

Ruminate is based in Cedar Rapids and has been building and selling WiFi connected smart lamps that monitor homes since 2009. The lamp can be programmed to notify inhabitants, learn the house owner’s habits and save energy. Today many homes are built with smart technology and costs increase rapidly when this is added throughout the home. As internet connections are made more readily available in small towns across America, any older home can become a smart home with the addition of the Ruminate technology. The board awarded Ruminate a $20,000 grant via POCR for market identification.

Viewpoint Molecular Targeting, LLC is a startup company that develops pharmaceutical drugs for diagnostic imaging and therapy for cancer – with a focus on metastatic melanoma. Viewpoint is located in Iowa City and was awarded a $100,000 loan through the Demonstration Fund to be used primarily for equipment.

Muscatine Reinvestment District receives final approval
The board also approved the maximum benefit amount of $10 million for the Muscatine Reinvestment District plan submitted by the City of Muscatine. The Iowa Reinvestment District Program is designed to assist communities in developing transformative projects that will improve the quality of life, create and enhance unique opportunities and substantially benefit the community, region and state. The program provides for up to $100 million in new state hotel/motel and sales tax revenues to be “reinvested” within approved districts. Districts cannot exceed 25 acres in size, and must be in an Urban Renewal Area.

Iowa Reinvestment District plans must include tax revenues generated by “new retail establishments” and “new lessors.” New retail establishments cannot exceed 50 percent of the total proposed capital investment. At least one of the new proposed projects within the district must reach a total capital investment of $10 million. And, the total amount of new tax revenues to be remitted to the municipality cannot exceed 35 percent of the total cost of all proposed projects in the district plan.

In 2014, 10 municipalities submitted applications, with three receiving a score in excess of 70 points (out of 100). In June, 2014, the IEDA board approved provisional funding for the projects in the City of Des Moines, the City of Muscatine and the City of Waterloo. Final application materials fully meeting all of the program’s requirements were due prior to March 1, 2015.

The City of Muscatine submitted its final application by the deadline, and today the IEDA board acted to award the maximum $10 million benefit amount contingent on finalizing the USDA loan within the next 180 days.

The district includes the construction of a hotel, convention center and parking facility in downtown Muscatine. The hotel will consist of 112 rooms and amenities, as well as premium conference space and parking. The proposal is in response to identified needs brought forward by a marketing analysis showing a considerable amount of the city’s retail, restaurant and accommodations activity are going elsewhere due to lack of facilities.

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