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Mar 30

Charles City company among other Iowa firms to receive state economic incentives

dollars-moneyDES MOINES, IOWA – The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board on Tuesday awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to four companies for job creation and expansion projects. These awards will assist in the creation of 1,219 jobs and will result in over $290 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 Akron, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Coralville, Des Moines, Le Mars and Mason City.

New cold storage facility planned in Le Mars
Nor-Am Cold Storage, Inc., (d/b/a Pro-Visions Packing) is a Public Refrigerated Warehouse that offers value added services, including blast freezing, re-packing, boxing and tempering to food companies. The board awarded the company tax benefits through the High Quality Jobs Program (HQJ) for a project that consists of building cold storage warehousing and dock space in Le Mars. This $17.9 million capital investment is expected to create 13 jobs, of which one is incented at a qualifying wage of $20.84 per hour.

Pork processor proposes building in Mason City
Prestage Farms, Inc. is a 33-year old “top five” producer of live hogs and live turkeys with multiple U.S. locations including Iowa. Since 2003, Prestage Farms has operated swine finishing facilities in Iowa. The company has formed a new entity, Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC, to build a state-of-the-art pork processing plant in Mason City. The Mason City project plant represents a $239 million capital investment. The company was awarded tax benefits via HQJ for this project and is expected to create 922 jobs, of which 332 are incented at a qualifying wage of $15.79 per hour.

Simply Essentials expands in Charles City
Simply Essentials, LLC, has been in business since 2013 with a primary focus on health and wellness foods. The company has contract cattle produced in Iowa and Minnesota with a proprietary feed formulation that enhances the Omega 3 attributes while lowering cholesterol. The company’s proposed project expands the business into high quality chicken production by purchasing and upgrading an existing facility in Charles City. This $29.9 million capital investment is expected to create 254 jobs, of which 34 are incented at a qualifying wage of $15.93 an hour. The board awarded the company tax benefits via HQJ for this project worth about $2 million.

Vspec set to expand in Cedar Rapids
Vspec, LLC is a third-party administrator located in Cedar Rapids that specializes in handling physical damage claims for all vehicle types. Vspec’s technical experts serve as an office of centralized “vehicle claim specialists” to the insurance industry. As a resource to the insurance industry, Vspec’s unique core product is a managed repair program designed to reduce expenses for insurance companies, while expediting repairs and improving vehicle owner satisfaction. The board awarded the company tax benefits from HQJ for a $3.7 million capital investment that consists of repurposing and renovating an existing building in Cedar Rapids. The project is expected to create 30 jobs, of which 21 are incented at a qualifying wage of $23.62 per hour.

Awards made to four startups
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.

The Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund promotes the formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of technology into competitive, profitable companies that create high-paying jobs. The funds are designed to support commercializing research, launching new start-ups and accelerating private investment and industrial expansion efforts that result in significant capital investment.

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

Stone Medical Corporation, located in Bettendorf, provides hospitals with Clean Collect Blood Culture Kits. Clean Collect uses a patented diversion method to prevent contamination of blood cultures. The company recently completed a key distribution contract and sales partnership with a major distributor of lab products for hospitals. With minimal viable competition in the target market, clear market access, and a strong sales partner, the company has increased sales and is in strong position for rapid sales growth. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan through the Innovation Acceleration Launch Fund.

Akron-based TreePans.com was established in response to the NW Iowa drought of 2012. TreePans are a reusable, environmentally-friendly agricultural product that shortens growth spans, increases yield, makes maintenance easier and lessens the resources needed to care for trees. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan through the Innovation Acceleration Launch Fund for market planning and entry activities and key personnel.

FliteBrite has developed a patent-pending technology that addresses the disconnect between brewery patrons and the craftsmanship of the brew master. Most breweries offer “flights”, which allows customers to enjoy a small collection of individual beer samples. Currently, the expanding craft beer industry lacks a solution for informing customers on what they are sampling. This leads to confusion and a missed opportunity to guide future purchasing habits. FliteBrite’s electronic serving system implements interactive technology to intelligently solve this problem, while creating a dynamic opportunity for this industry to better connect with more educated customers. This Des Moines-based company was awarded a $25,000 grant from the POCR Fund primarily for product refinement and electronic certifications.

SynderBio Inc. is located in Coralville and founded on technology developed at the University of Iowa (UI). The company’s core technology platform is based on an innovative mechanical technique to discriminate benign and malignant cancer cells. SynderBio has already developed two prototype devices using GAP funding obtained from UI. The next milestone for SynderBio will be development of a manufacturing-ready instrument for use in research laboratories. The company received a $25,000 grant from the POCR Fund for collecting market intelligence and assessment and validation activities.

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