Iowa is leaning into business, says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Agency

Durham among speakers at NewBoCo’s annual conference dedicated to innovation

IEDA Director Debi Durham touts the “continuum of funding” available to businesses in Iowa during NewBoCo’s annual meeting on Tuesday. (Rob Merritt/NewBoCo)

Rochelle Claude Kotar, senior IT manager at UFG Insurance, speaks about the DeltaV code school during NewBoCo’s annual meeting on Tuesday. (Rob Merritt/NewBoCo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One of the challenges Iowa has long had in attracting new businesses — as well as new workers and residents — from other parts of the state to the state, Debi Durham said, is that “we didn’t get it right became”.

Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Finance Authority, touted the state’s “This Is Iowa” campaign – its slogan is “A Secret Worth Sharing” – as one of several state initiatives to promote economic development.

The This Is Iowa website provides a link to the IEDA website and information about visiting and relocating to Iowa.

Durham was one of eight speakers and presenters during the 2022 New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, or NewBoCo, Annual Meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Olympic South Side Theater in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo District.

Discussing how the state and IEDA are “leaning on” to help businesses, she touted the “continuum of funding available,” from demonstrating commercial relevance, to receiving demonstration funding and other later support, to possible expansion assistance .

Durham mentioned as an example the US Treasury Department’s upcoming distribution of approximately $96 million announced last month through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which will be made available to startups, small and veteran-owned businesses.

The economic development director also stressed the “enormous potential” for the development of Iowa’s life sciences industry, citing the cluster of Ingredion, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Diamond V and other large companies already operating in these sectors.

“Iowa should own this space,” she said.

Durham told The Gazette after the NewBoCo meeting that she had “never seen this bio space… so energetic.” The state is looking at a “$7 billion portfolio of potential customers,” she added.

“Companies need to source this green energy.”

And she’s always ready to talk to companies about the positives of doing business in Iowa.

“I’ll give you my cell phone number Everyone,” She said.

Other speakers who took the stage during the meeting included:

  • David Hayes, President of Coe College, speaks about innovation
  • Lynn Allendorf, director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, promotes NewBoCo’s annual Entrefest conference
  • Rochelle Claude Kotar, Senior IT Manager at UFG Insurance, on the DeltaV code school
  • Samantha Dahlby, NewBoCo’s K-12 Education Director, and Kaitlin Byers, Capital Access Manager for the Kiva Iowa Loan Program provided updates on their programs
  • NewBoCo Community Engagement Manager Anthony Betters Jr. announced a new partnership with Council Bluffs. Mount Pleasant has been a community partner since this summer, said Jill Wilkins, NewBoCo’s chief operating officer.
  • Cedar Raids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell also took the stage to thank the organization for their work through their many programs.

NewBoCo, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2014.

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David Hayes, President of Coe College, speaks about innovation at NewBoCo’s annual meeting. (Rob Merritt/NewBoCo)

NewBoCo executive director Aaron Horn at the nonprofit’s annual meeting on Tuesday. (Rob Merritt/NewBoCo)

IEDA Director Debi Durham touts the “continuum of funding” available to businesses in Iowa during NewBoCo’s annual meeting on November 15, 2022. (Michael Chevy Castranova/The Gazette)

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