Area Development
The Iowa Economic Development Authority board awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to seven companies throughout The Hawkeye State to promote job creation and expansion projects.

In Burlington, Iowa, Shearer’s Foods, a national contract manufacturing and private label supplier in the snack industry in North America, plans to expand its production facility. Shearer operates eight manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. Because of the recent acquisition of a private label cookie and cracker business, Shearer’s proposed a $33 million project that willinclude the addition of a new cracker line including equipment for bulk materials, mixing, baking, production, receiving and warehousing. The board awarded the company, which plans to create 83 jobs, tax benefits. The project also received benefits via the Targeted Jobs Withholding Tax Credit program.

Other firms that received incentive grants included;

Blue-9 is a Maquoketa-based company focused on the manufacture and sale of a canine training platform called, “The Klimb.” The company believes the platform is an essential piece of equipment for dog training at all levels that helps the trainer gain greater focus and faster results. Focus trainer group data shows that the company possesses a first-to-market commercial position. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan through the Demonstration Fund to execute its marketing and sales strategies beginning with the professional trainer market segment that currently employs the platform training method.

Iowa Adaptive Technologies, based in Coralville, developed a product, the IAT SmartSwitch, in order to address the needs of the large number of patients with limited physical and communication abilities. The IAT SmartSwitch uses patented technology to detect the smallest intentional gestures a patient can produce, such as finger tap, eye movement, tongue click, and provides multiple output controls that are compatible with existing nurse call systems and speech generating devices. The IAT SmartSwitch can be easily implemented into the current market due to its simple design and compatibility with existing nurse call systems and other devices. The board awarded Iowa Adaptive Technologies a $100,000 loan through the Demonstration Fund to move forward with clinical field trials and additional marketing and sales efforts.

MudbuM based in Des Moines, has developed the HAWG LAWG, a patented “ditty pole” product that allows users to catch gigantic trophy catfish. The design allows extraction and retrieval of the line back inside the pole with no knots to tie for easy set-up and recovery of all tackle. In addition, an extended line of ancillary products and apparel have and continue to be developed and added to MudbuM’s line of products. The board awarded the company a $100,000 loan through the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund to build the company’s relevance and credibility as cat fishing experts with a revolutionary alternative to traditional fishing methods.

Ankeny-based Rocket Referrals is a cloud-based software company that automates the process of increasing sales via referrals, cross sell and upsell opportunities for service companies with emphasis on insurance agencies. Rocket Referrals deploys a multipronged approach to referral marketing drawing on targeted and psychology-driven content across email, social media and direct mail. The board awarded Rocket Referrals a $100,000 loan via the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund to continue product development, customer acquisition and to establish additional industry partnerships.

Higher Learning Technologies was started in Coralville in 2012. HLT started with a single software product for dental students studying for their licensure exams. The products include mobile apps for test prep and education. After having success in the dental field, the business scaled up to include nursing, finance and admissions exams. The board approved a $300,000 royalty agreement through the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund so the company can expand its reach into test prep for ACT, SAT, GED, HiSET, GRE, GMAT and other large exams.

Coralville-based VIDA Diagnostics, Inc. is the first-in-class diagnostics and therapeutic imaging informatics company for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment planning of pulmonary disease. In the emerging era of cost containment and value-based imaging services, VIDA extends the current value of medical imaging to the objective, repeatable, measurable standard demanded by pulmonary clinicians for critical decision support. The board approved a $500,000 loan through the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund so VIDA can continue to grow commercialization channels and further refine and develop its product.