Techstars, Iowa Medicaid
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Wednesday PM Daily | August 31, 2022
Lifting up Latino entrepreneurs
Business leaders to talk about opportunities, barriers

Hola Iowa and the Business Record are partnering to produce a panel discussion with Des Moines-area Latino business owners. In the discussion, we will hear their stories about entrepreneurship as they talk about the opportunities and barriers they’ve come across. Attendees can both learn entrepreneurial lessons from the leaders and have a better understanding of how to lend support specific to the needs of the Latino community.

The need to support Latinos in Greater Des Moines will continue to increase; as one indicator, Des Moines Public Schools data from the most recent school year shows that 29.2% of students identify as Hispanic/Latino, compared with only 9.8% 20 years ago. Join us to learn from these business owners and hear about specific actions to include Latino entrepreneurs in the local economic ecosystem.

Panelists to be announced soon.

Sept. 20 | Noon to 1 p.m. | Virtual event | Register here

Levy to lead second Techstars accelerator
By Sarah Bogaards | Staff Writer
Kerty Levy, managing director of the Techstars Iowa accelerator, will also lead the new Techstars Crypto Boston accelerator starting in January 2023, she told the Business Record in an interview last week.

She said Techstars is encouraging experienced managing directors to run more than one accelerator, and her interest in blockchain technologies and Web3 drew her to the crypto-focused accelerator based in Boston, which was announced in June.

Web3 is an idea for an iteration of the internet that uses blockchain, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens to give users control and ownership of online assets.

"There’s so much to uncover there," Levy said. "I’m interested as an investor, I’m interested as a coach to founders. It’s just so early — it’s a really fun time to be in it."

The Crypto Boston accelerator is a 13-week hybrid program, meaning Levy will be traveling to Boston for the in-person portions from January to April next year.

Techstars has partnered with blockchain protocol Algorand and the Algorand Foundation to offer the program for three years. Levy said she has committed to running the first program.

The accelerator will bring together startups from across the globe that are using blockchain technology for a variety of solutions and industries including infrastructure, supply chain, decentralized finance (DeFi), social networks and more.

Levy said blockchain technology’s potential lies in the ability to broaden individuals’ accessibility to and ownership of assets, and to more efficiently authenticate transactions.

Blockchain "can make certain industries much more efficient than they are today," she said. "For example, the exchange of value across supply chains or movement of money require many checks and balances today that are put behind institutional walls, making them slow and expensive. What blockchain technology does is make those transactions immutable. The record is there and it doesn't need to go through all the different points of contact to prove that it's complete."

She is curious to see what types of solutions founders are creating and how the various uses for blockchain could benefit Iowa’s key industries, including logistics, manufacturing, finance and insurance.

Next year’s Techstars Iowa program will see a small change with the accelerator running in the fall instead of over the summer. Levy said this timeline will allow more college students interested in venture capital and investing to assist with the accelerator.

Grinnell College students will help source and evaluate startups for the fall program in spring 2023, and fall internships will be open to students from Grinnell and all three public universities. Grinnell, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are partners of Techstars Iowa.

Techstars Iowa has also added a new role to its team. Each year an investment associate or investment principal will work alongside Levy to help source and screen startups, match the startups with investors that fit their business and serve as a mentor to the founders.

The role is filled this year by Dan Pfeil, who will work with different Techstars program throughout the year. Levy said there will be a new person in the role for each future program.

The Techstars Crypto Boston accelerator is accepting applications until Sept. 28.


Iowa Medicaid to add Molina Healthcare of Iowa as third MCO
The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced the intent to award Medicaid managed care contracts to Amerigroup Iowa and Molina Healthcare of Iowa. Iowa Total Care, which with Amerigroup Iowa has held the Medicaid contract since July 2019, will also continue to serve Iowans in the Iowa Medicaid program. The contracts in total are worth about $6.5 billion annually. Iowa Medicaid will work closely with Molina as its begins operations in Iowa, the agency said in a press release. "Over the past year, I have been working to push the Medicaid program into new territory," said Iowa Medicaid Director Liz Matney. "We’re listening to our members and providers, making sure we hear and respond to their feedback. This is the guiding force of all we do and has proven to push us past the status quo. This is reflected in the changes to the new contracts, which prioritize program improvements and better outcomes for those we serve." Molina will begin providing services in July 2023. Between now and then Iowa Medicaid will work with Molina on its readiness review, and Amerigroup and Iowa Total Care continue to provide services. As of February, Amerigroup, owned by Anthem, and Iowa Total Care, owned by Centene, serve about 782,000 enrollees in Iowa. Molina Healthcare, a Fortune 500 company with about 5 million members, also offers Medicaid plans in 17 other states. Amerigroup Iowa and Molina Healthcare were among five companies that bid for the contract; also bidding were Aetna Better Health of Iowa, CareSource Iowa Co., and UCare Iowa.

$19M in tax credits awarded for restoration of historic buildings
The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded $19 million in Historic Preservation Tax Credits to restore 14 historic buildings. The program is administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, which announced the awards today. The agency received 23 applications requesting nearly $35 million in tax credits. Four projects in Des Moines were included on the list of those that received awards. They are:
  • Euclid Avenue State Bank Building, $479,280.
  • Globe Machinery and Supply Co./Globe Hoist, $2.58 million.
  • Varsity Theater, $1.06 million.
  • French Way Cleaners, $701,739.
The Historic Preservation Tax Credit program provides a state income tax credit to projects that rehabilitate historic buildings while maintaining their character. The deadline for the next round of large project applications is Jan. 9, when more than $20 million in tax credits will be available.

Primary Health Care receives $50K clinical training grant from Aetna
Primary Health Care Inc., a Des Moines-based nonprofit community health center that operates nine locations in Central Iowa, announced it has received a $50,000 donation from Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC. The donation will help support a leadership training program for PHC’s clinicians. The leadership training program will explore change management, population health, and methods to incorporate process improvement and value-based concepts that drive financial stability, close health equity gaps and improve patient outcomes. "We are grateful for Aetna and their support of this valuable training program," Kelly Huntsman, CEO of Primary Health Care, said in a release. "This investment in our clinical leaders will not only lead to better health outcomes but will further support our work as the health care system moves to value-based arrangements that align provider incentives with quality care." PHC will hold two cohorts over the yearlong program focused on upskilling providers to be more effective in improving clinical quality. The donation is part of $225,000 in funding that Aetna announced in May to six community health organizations in Iowa.
A Closer Look: Brian Mulcahy
Assistant executive director, Des Moines International Airport

Brian Mulcahy was recently promoted to the role of assistant executive director at the Des Moines International Airport, moving up from the finance director’s position, which he held for about 10 years. Before he came to the airport Mulcahy worked in the insurance industry and later worked full time for the Iowa National Guard and went to Iraq in 2008 and 2009. He stayed on with the Guard for a couple of years after he returned in an operations role before joining the airport.

Mulcahy said the leadership opportunities provided by the military and leading people who were technical experts has helped prepare him for his new role and for the step he eventually hopes to make – someday moving into the top leadership role at the airport. But until then his sights are set on making the airport improvement plan a reality and helping the airport grow, add airlines and reach 5 million passengers by 2032. Read more

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USDA Secretary Vilsack says small meat processor grants will add resilience
Des Moines Register: The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced it's sending nearly $22 million to about 110 local and regional lockers and meatpacking facilities in 37 states to enable them to process more livestock and sell their products more widely. Among them are 13 Iowa facilities that will receive a combined total of $2.6 million to buy equipment, add space and tackle other upgrades that will qualify them to be federally inspected or inspected through a special state program. That will enable them to sell their products across the country.

FDA authorizes first revamp of COVID vaccines to target omicron
NPR: The Food and Drug Administration today authorized reformulated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that aim to protect against the omicron variant. The new shots target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants that most people are catching now. This double-barreled vaccine is called a bivalent vaccine.

First Solar announces new U.S. panel factory following the Inflation Reduction Act
CNBC: First Solar announced Tuesday that it will build a new solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. on the heels of the Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivizes domestic manufacturing. The company will invest up to $1 billion in the new factory, which it plans to build in the southeastern United States.

U.S. life expectancy falls again in ‘historic’ setback

New York Times: The average life expectancy of Americans fell precipitously in 2020 and 2021, the sharpest two-year decline in nearly 100 years and a stark reminder of the toll exacted on the nation by the continuing coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, the average American could expect to live until the age of 76, federal health researchers reported today. The figure represents a loss of almost three years since 2019, when Americans could expect to live, on average, nearly 79 years. The reduction has been particularly steep among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, the National Center for Health Statistics reported. Average life expectancy in those groups was shortened by four years in 2020 alone. The cumulative decline since the pandemic started, more than six and a half years on average, has brought life expectancy to 65 among Native Americans and Alaska Natives — on par with the figure for all Americans in 1944.

Campaign underway in Ames to name auditorium after longtime director
One group is campaigning to change the name of the Ames High School auditorium. They want to name it after Wayne A. Hansen, who was the school's drama director for more than 30 years. Hansen was hired by the school in 1970. He taught English, speech and theater arts, along with directing dozens of plays. Hansen died in 2020, shortly after his 80th birthday. Organizers of the campaign said he was highly regarded by students and staff at the school and this is just one way to remember the impact he made on everyone who crossed his path. Read more
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