The Business Record reports that last week Senator Grassley's office informed Mark Edelman, professor, that the Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration has approved a Seed Fund Support Grant for $300,000 over 3 years to support the $600,000 project called the Iowa Rural Equity Project. The EDA grant has been approved for the Iowa Foundation for Microenterprise and Community Vitality based in Boone, and its collaboration with the Ag Ventures Alliance Coop of Mason City, ISU Community Vitality Center, and ISU Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative/Ag Startup Engine.
The grant is to provide planning support to engage legal expertise, professional equity expertise, philanthropic expertise and support for a marketing initiative to develop/expand three rural equity capital initiatives. One is to develop Iowa's network of community seed funds patterned after the Ames Seed Capital Fund. A second is to develop/expand Rural Angel Investor Networks (RAIN) that invest in strategic rural opportunities to add value to agriculture as well as economic diversification ventures in multiple rural communities and rural areas. The third initiative is to organize a charitable equity endowment program that co-invests with equity professionals in strategic rural ventures that meet investment grade criteria.This initiative is modeled after a charitable equity program program organized by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation that covers 20 counties in South central and Southeast Minnesota.
The IREP initiative concepts are based on a series of Rural Entrepreneur Capital Forums organized by the Community Vitality Center since 2014. The first step will be to organize a statewide project steering committee.