Des Moines, Iowa-based Wellmark Inc. has committed $5 million in venture capital to help encourage business development and expansion in rural Iowa communities.
The effort is through the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa program, which was launched in September and targets communities with less than 30,000 people.
Wellmark is the first outside investor to commit to the program, according to a news release.
“This collaboration is about more than creating jobs, it’s about how many jobs are touched by wealth creation,” Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang said in a statement. “This is about supporting the quality of life that draws people back to small towns, maintaining rural integrity, infusing ideas and fueling entrepreneurship.”
The Iowa Farm Bureau hopes to raise up to $20 million more in venture capital by the end of the year for the Renew Rural Iowa program, which provides training and business guidance to entrepreneurs through a partnership with Entrepreneurial Development Center Inc. of Cedar Rapids.
Entrepreneurs must go through a mentoring program to be eligible for the venture capital, the release said.
Wellmark’s commitment is part of its $25 million, five-year effort begun in 2002 to help start and expand Iowa-based businesses.
“We are very pleased to join with Farm Bureau and commit funds to this program,” John Forsyth, chairman and chief executive officer for Wellmark, said in a statement. “We share in the vision of statewide economic growth.”
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