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The Number Of Abortions Performed In Iowa Rose Significantly In 2020

Daily Digest

Friday, July 16

4:00 p.m. - Des Moines Art Center to host exhibit that reflects artists’ Central American background

The Des Moines Art Center will host a new exhibit called Central American.

Artist Justin Favela is half Guatemalan and half Mexican, and he makes sure his art reflects his background. He wanted Iowans to acknowledge the strong ties many Central Americans have in the state.

“When I go somewhere, like, I know that my people are there, I know that they're in the restaurants, I know that they're working at the hotels, I know, you know, that there, there is little communities everywhere that I go of Latinx folks, and especially in an agricultural economy, like Iowa.”

His large pieces are made from small sheets of tissue paper, kind of like a piñata. He got the idea in school when professors told him to reflect his identity in his art -- he took it literally.

“I hope it empowers people, especially younger folks that that want to be an artist and say, ‘Hey, if this guy can do it, I can do it too.’ You know, which I think is just like so powerful.”

Favela says he also hopes it will remind Iowans of the diversity of the state. The exhibition will open Saturday and run through October 24, through Hispanic Heritage Month.

3:30 p.m. – Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at Iowa summit

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a gathering of Iowa evangelicals that the United States is not systemically racist, and that saying so undermines foreign diplomacy.

The possible Republican presidential candidate spoke at a summit held by the conservative Christian group, The Family Leader.

Pompeo led the State Department for nearly three years in the Trump administration. He says China has pointed to racial justice protests in the United States to justify its own actions against protesters. “We are not a defeated nation. We are not a nation in decline. We are not a racist nation. We are a God-blessed Christian nation.”

The summit may be a preview of the 2024 Iowa caucuses. Along with Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem are scheduled to speak at the event.

1 p.m. - Iowa’s unemployment rate up to 4 percent as more people seek jobs

Iowa’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 4 percent in June as more resident began looking for work, according to statistics released Friday.

Iowa Workforce Development reports the unemployment rate increased from 3.9 percent in May.

The number of working Iowans increased by 3,800 from May to June but the number of unemployed residents seeking jobs also increased by 2,400.

Iowa is tied for the nation’s 12th lowest unemployment rate. Nebraska’s rate of 2.5 percent was the country’s lowest.

The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 5.9 percent.

Entry via the Associated Press

12:11 p.m. – Wednesday’s tornadoes cause extensive damage around the state

The National Weather Service confirmed more than a dozen tornados across Iowa Wednesday afternoon.

Jeff Sievers lives in the Lake City area, where a tornado touched down around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

He says he was outside when the tornado approached, and the storm started and stopped suddenly. “Just like you shut the light switch off again, it was done. We walked outside and, well, we didn’t expect that much damage. It blew the barn over, and we had livestock in it.”

Sievers says he and his wife were able to rescue the livestock that had been trapped under the debris.

“We have been married 41 years and this is the first time – we’ve been in some storms, but nothing like this.”

Sievers made his comments in an interview for IPR’s River to River.

According to the National Weather Service, despite extensive damage, no deaths or injuries were reported. The Ames Tribune reports that more than 5,000 households lost power in the storms.

7 a.m. - Iowa abortions continue to increase, reversing long decline

The number of abortions performed in Iowa rose significantly in 2020, continuing a big jump that began in 2019 after a long downward trend, according to data released Monday.

Data released to legislative staff by the Iowa Department of Public Health shows Iowa had a 14 percent increase in abortions in 2020 following a 25 percent rise in 2019.

State Sen. Janet Petersen sent the information to the Des Moines Register and argued the increasing number of abortions was due to state efforts to limit birth control options. Petersen, a Democrat and abortion-rights supporter, said the increasing number of abortions reflect moves supported by Republican lawmakers to withdraw from a federally funded family planning program that helped thousands of people to get birth control and information on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Planned Parenthood was barred from participation and the state implemented a new program that served fewer people.

“I once again think that when they take family planning services away from Iowans and expect abortion numbers to drop, they’re just kidding themselves,” she said.

Maggie DeWitte, executive director of the group Iowans for Life, argued there is plenty of access to birth control in Iowa and that abortion increases were due to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that declared the state constitution protects abortions as a fundamental right.

“When you create a fundamental right, that means you can’t regulate abortions in any way,” she said. “Our hands are tied.”

The data showed there were 4,058 abortions performed in 2020, an increase from 3,566 performed in 2019. The increases came after a 56 percent drop in abortions from 2008 to 2018.

Pat Garrett, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, declined to comment on the abortion increase.

Entry via the Associated Press

6 a.m. – Republican presidential hopefuls in Des Moines for Christian conservative leadership summit

Some high profile Republicans who may run for president are in Des Moines Friday, where they’ll speak at a gathering of Christian conservatives.

Two members of the Trump White House will address The Family Leader’s annual Leadership Summit: former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem will also be there.

Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats told Iowa PBS that those three potential GOP candidates were invited because they’ve spent less time speaking to Iowa evangelical voters.

The Family Leader plays a prominent role in GOP presidential politics. In 2016, Vander Plaats endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who won the Iowa caucuses but lost the Republican nomination to Donald Trump.

Party officials have said they expect the Iowa GOP to hold the nation’s first caucus again in 2024.

Thursday, July 15

2:23 p.m. - Waterford nonprofit launches no cost preschool option
Iowans will have a new, no cost option for preschool beginning this August. The nonprofit organization running the program is focusing on underserved populations in the state.

The early education program is run by the nonprofit Waterford.org. For the first time, its free Waterford Upstart will be offered to 200 children in need in Iowa.

Kim Fischer, the national spokesperson, says the program focuses on Iowans who don’t have access to brick and mortar schools and on those who don’t speak English fluently. “Those are the children we want to reach. So truly, it is about finding the children that don't have access and giving them this access to early education.”

Previous CDC research found that Hispanic students have the lowest rates of access to in-person schools. Applications are open now for families of all backgrounds, but the spots are limited. The program will run from August through May.

12:33 p.m. - Bahena Rivera’s defense attorneys argue that sex trafficker may have been involved in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts

Defense attorneys argued in court Thursday that a sex trafficker allegedly involved in the disappearance of a woman and a child in eastern Iowa may also be connected to the case of Mollie Tibbetts.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera was convicted of killing Tibbets in May, but his lawyers are seeking information from prosecutors about another suspect named by two witnesses who came forward during the trial.

The suspect and an accomplice are alleged to have run a sex trafficking ring near where Tibbetts disappeared.

Defense attorney Chad Frese pointed to a number of other missing persons cases. “There's something rotten within this area. And they don't want to help us, provide us any information. This is a small area. Ten kids are missing. That's not coincidental, and we think it's exculpatory.”

Prosecutors have dismissed the defense’s requests as a “fishing expedition.” The judge plans to rule on the motions by the end of the week.

Bahena Rivera’s sentencing for first degree murder has been delayed until the requests are dealt with.

8:30 a.m. - No injuries, but lots of damage reported with Iowa tornadoes

No deaths or injuries were immediately reported from tornadoes that tore through central and eastern Iowa, but many found damaged buildings, shredded trees and overturned vehicles in the path of the storms, officials said.

Law enforcement and trained spotters confirmed several tornadoes Wednesday afternoon and night in mostly rural, uninhabited areas, the National Weather Service said. But one that touched down near Lake City in north-central Iowa damaged a home, flipped a truck and trailer and flattened nearby corn crops, The Messenger reported.

A building that houses school buses for South Central Calhoun High School saw part of its roof and doors torn off.

In northeastern Iowa, Oelwein Community School District saw its high sports stadium damaged by a tornado.

Jack Widner, of nearby Waverly, told television station KCRG that he tried to survey the damage, but was hindered by strewn debris.

“I was worried about our neighbor,” Widner said. “I couldn’t find his house, I found his shed was torn apart down there, but I couldn’t find his house and I couldn’t find the other neighbor’s house. All I could find was trees.”

The National Weather Service planned to send survey crews Thursday to several areas across the state where tornadoes were reported.

Entry via Associated Press

7 a.m. – Native people in Iowa to escort remains of Indigenous children who died at boarding school as the remains are returned to tribal lands

Native people in Iowa will help escort the remains of Indigenous children who died at a boarding school as they are returned to tribal lands in South Dakota.

Members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are traveling through the state as they repatriate the remains of nine children who perished at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. Among them were the first children ever sent to the boarding school, which was the first of hundreds of notorious facilities established in the United States.

The caravan bringing the children home is slated to make stops in Tama and Sioux City on Thursday, where Native Iowans plan to meet and pray with them before escorting them on to South Dakota.

It’s not known how many children died at the government and church-run schools. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland recently announced a federal initiative into more than 365 schools across the country.

7 a.m. - New UI President Barbara Wilson takes office Thursday

Communications scholar and academic administrator Barbara Wilson takes office Thursday as the next president of the University of Iowa.

Wilson, who previously served as the second in command at the University of Illinois system, said she sought out the post, in part, to spend more time with students.

UI Undergraduate Student Body President Regan Smock says she hopes mental health on campus will be a priority for Wilson. “I think COVID illuminated a lot of what…some people were living in silence about. So I really hope that we can try to push more funding towards mental health services in general. I think, especially for students of color, students of underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.”

Smock said she anticipates one of Wilson’s biggest challenges will be earning trust across a diverse range of constituents on campus. Smock says she’s hopeful Wilson will keep lines of communication open to build trust on campus.

“I think that there are students who will never think about who's making decisions about stuff. But those who do, do not feel heard in what they need and what they want. And part of that is the like, you have constituents with different demands and different things they need. And that makes it difficult.”

Wilson has also spoken about her goals to expand diversity, equity and inclusion and improve graduation rates.

6 a.m. – Petition launched by Indigenous peoples of Iowa to remove some statues from Capitol grounds gains momentum

A petition launched by a group of Indigenous peoples of Iowa has collected more than 600 signatures asking the state government to take down some statues on the Capitol grounds. These include a Christopher Columbus bust and a “friendly Indian” statue.

Sikowis, also known as Christine Nobiss, is the founder of Great Plains Action Society. She’s also Plains Cree/Saulteaux, so she says the statues have made her and others feel unwelcome.

“Because this does not just affect Indigenous people, it affects BIPOC people, it affects, you know, everybody really, because it's not really telling the real history of this country.”

Sikowis and the other organizers hope to present 1000 signatures to state lawmakers in an effort to draft new legislation that would ban not only the statues, but other practices like celebrating Columbus Day in schools and having Indigenous mascots.

6 a.m. - 10 additional deaths, 920 new cases of COVID-19 reported last week in Iowa

Wednesday, July 14

3:02 p.m. - Jasper County Board of Supervisors passes resolution making rural, unincorporated areas ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors has unanimously passed a resolution declaring rural and unincorporated areas of the county a "Second Amendment Sanctuary."

It bars city or county employees in Jasper County from enforcing state or federal mandates that infringe on gun rights in those areas.

Jasper County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Cupples says the resolution changes nothing now and would kick in only if state or federal gun restrictions go into effect.

"What we are saying is that if the state or federal government is going to enforce those laws, they are the ones that are going to have to come enforce them," he says. "One is for the resources. Tthat would be part of it, but also for the safety of the people of Jasper County."

The supervisors held a public hearing before voting. One resident said it was an important pre-emptive move as the Biden Administration pushes for new gun laws. Others said there was no need for the resolution or expressed opposition to the concept. Hardin County Supervisors are considering a similar move.

1:48 p.m. – Bahena Rivera sentencing hearing delayed

A sentencing hearing for the man convicted of killing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts has been delayed, after his attorneys requested a new trial and more time to review new evidence.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera had been scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison Thursday. Instead, the judge will hold a hearing on the defendant’s requests to compel prosecutors to hand over information about other suspects.

Bahena Rivera’s attorneys say that two witnesses independently came forward during the trial to name the same suspect who allegedly confessed to Tibbetts’ killing.

11:32 a.m. – Iowa traffic approaches pre-pandemic levels

Transportation traffic in Iowa is just about back to levels seen before the pandemic.

Stuart Anderson with the state Department of Transportation told Iowa’s Transportation Commission this week that June levels for planes, trains and vehicle traffic were about 1 percent below June of 2019. He says there are still areas that are rebounding more slowly as many people continue working from home.

"I think on some of our really heavy commuter routes traditionally -- those are lagging some more than some of our other routes,"

Anderson says traffic on the I-235 route through Des Moines is still lower than before the pandemic.

He says air traffic is back to about 70 percent of the May 2019 level and continues to grow.

8 a.m. - Workers remove boat for inquiry in Iowa water ride accident

Workers used a crane Tuesday to remove a boat from an Iowa amusement park ride as part of the investigation into an accident that killed one boy and critically injured his brother.

The boat, which weighs over 1,700 pounds, was removed from the manmade channel on the Raging River ride so that inspectors and engineers could have a closer examination, Adventureland Park attorney Guy Cook said.

The boat was placed on a trailer and taken to a secure location, as the investigation into the “tragic and extremely unusual accident continues,” he said.

The boat was carrying six members of a Marion, Iowa, family at the park in Altoona when it unexpectedly overturned on the evening of July 3, trapping two brothers under the water for minutes. Michael Jaramillo, 11, died of his injuries the next day, while 16-year-old David Jaramillo remains hospitalized in critical condition.

David Jaramillo is still heavily sedated and hooked up to oxygen, unable to talk or see for the moment, said family attorney Ryan Best.

His father, also David Jaramillo, was undergoing surgery Tuesday on bones he broke in his shoulder when the boat overturned, before he was able to free himself, Best said.

Michael Jaramillo’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at a Des Moines church.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Division of Labor, which is overseeing the investigation, said Tuesday that there is no timeline for the inquiry’s completion.

Adventureland voluntarily halted the ride, and Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts has ordered it not to restart pending the conclusion of the probe and correction of hazards. A regulator who inspected the ride the day before the accident noted no problems.

Best said the family’s legal team planned to request access to the boat Tuesday to conduct its own inspection.

Reporting by Ryan J. Foley for the Associated Press

Tuesday, July 13

5:06 p.m. – J.D. Scholten announces he will not seek office in 2022

The Iowa Democrat who came close to defeating former Congressman Steve King says he won’t seek office again in 2022.

Former professional baseball player J.D. Scholten says he’ll become the executive director of super PAC RuralVote.org. The PAC’s goal is to boost Democratic performance in rural communities.

Scholten ran back to back races in 2018 and 2020 that were seen as uphill battles in Iowa’s most conservative district. He says he had considered running for governor, U.S. House, or U.S. Senate, but a chance to do something more “substantial” came up. “Ultimately, it just made sense and it’s a good fit. And to me this is the natural progression from our campaigns.”

Scholten says he’s working on fundraising and reaching out to volunteers. He hopes to bust out his well-known Winnebago RV, Sioux City Sue, to start touring the country this fall.

4:09 p.m. – Visitors are once again allowed to visit incarcerated Iowans in-person

Incarcerated Iowans are once again being allowed to visit with their loved ones face-to-face, after 16 months of no in-person contact. Visits at state prisons resumed July 10, though social distancing and other restrictions are still in place.

After more than a year of video calls, Lisa was able to see her husband at the Newton Correctional Facility. IPR is withholding her last name to protect her privacy. “That physical touch means everything, you know? And it just changes it. When you're on a screen, and you've got…are my headphones working? Is my microphone working? I have to be careful as to what's in my background…”

Researchers have demonstrated that maintaining family bonds during incarceration reduces recidivism. Advocates hope to see visiting policies expand to allow more time with loved ones.

11:09 a.m. – Iowa will transition to offering self-administered COVID-19 tests as testing drive-thrus close

Iowa’s free, in-person COVID-19 testing sites will transition to offering self-administered test kits beginning Friday. The Test Iowa website will be updated to reflect the change.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced it will offer Iowans self-administered COVID-19 tests instead of testing at drive-thrus. Like the previous testing, the at-home tests will be free. Unlike the uncomfortable nasal test, the home test will require Iowans to collect a saliva sample and send it to the State Hygienic Lab to wait for the emailed results.

Beginning Friday, people can pick up the test kits in person from about 125 different sites or arrange for a free mailed test. The FDA has authorized these self-collected tests for emergency use.

The two drive-thru sites operating in Des Moines and Davenport will close Friday.

IDPH recommends the best way for Iowans to protect themselves against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.

9 a.m. - Third GOP candidate plans to seek third district congressional seat

State Sen. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, plans to run for congress and challenge the only Democrat in Iowa’s D.C. delegation.

Nunn served two terms in the Iowa House and was elected to the state senate in 2018. He’s also a member of the Iowa National Guard who was deployed this past year.

Nunn is the third Republican to announce they’re running in the current third congressional district, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, so a GOP primary is likely.

Republicans Mary Ann Hanusa, a former state legislator from Council Bluffs, and Nicole Hasso of Johnston, who works in the financial services industry, also plan to seek to the GOP spot to challenge Axne.

Axne has said she’s considering her options for 2022 and seeking a third term in the U.S. House is one of them.

Entry via Radio Iowa

6 a.m. - DeJear makes her first stop on listening tour as she considers a run for governor

A Des Moines voting-rights activist and small business owner made the first stop of her statewide listening tour Monday after launching an exploratory committee to consider running for governor.

Deidre DeJear met with the business owners at a salon near Drake University, her alma mater. They shared their experiences with state government and offered suggestions for how it can improve.

Next week, DeJear is heading to Eastern Iowa.

“I was re-inspired and reinvigorated,” she says. “I knew walking into this that, you know, communities know how to resolve the challenges that exist. They know what works, they know what doesn't.”

DeJear says she doesn’t know when she’ll decide whether to make a run, but it will depend on if there is a “strong path to victory.”

State Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, was the first Democrat to launch his campaign. Gov. Kim Reynolds has not officially announced whether she’ll run, but is widely expected to seek a second elected term.

6 a.m. - Man convicted of killing University of Iowa student seeks new trial, says new witnesses will corroborate his story

The man convicted of killing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is asking for another trial, citing new evidence from a jailhouse confession.

A jury found Cristhian Bahena Rivera guilty of first degree murder in the death of Tibbetts, who went missing while on a run in 2018.

Bahena Rivera had testified that two masked strangers were responsible for her abduction and death. In recent court filings, his attorneys claim two new witnesses came forward during the trial who can corroborate his account.

The judge in the case has ordered an inmate to appear in Poweshiek County court on Thursday, when Bahena Rivera is also scheduled to be sentenced.

Monday, July 12

2:55 p.m. - Iowa Legal Aid providing services to help tenants avoid evictions

Iowa Legal Aid is now operating four help desks in county courthouses across the state to help tenants avoid evictions. The agency opened its help center at the Johnson County Courthouse Monday, with others operating in Polk, Linn and Black Hawk Counties.

Ericka Petersen of Iowa Legal Aid wants tenants to know they do have rights, and landlords to know they can get rent assistance without seeking an eviction.

“I think the number one piece of advice for people is to come to your hearing. In several counties, you will now be greeted with people that can offer you legal assistance and people that can offer you and your landlord rent assistance.”

A recent federal survey shows some 84,000 Iowans are behind on rent. With the federal eviction moratorium set to expire July 31, attorneys and service providers are anticipating a surge in evictions.

Residents can call Iowa Legal Aid at 800-532-1275.

2:42 p.m. - Report finds that health disparities along racial and educational lines persist in Iowa

A new report on health disparities has found that Iowa has significant gaps in certain health care categories that fall along racial and educational lines.

The inaugural health disparities report by the United Healthcare Foundation found high disparities between the number of Hispanic and white Iowans who have a dedicated health care provider. It also found that Iowans without high school diplomas are significantly more likely to be food insecure than college graduates.

Rhonda Randall is the chief medical officer with United Healthcare. She says the number of high school graduates in Iowa who got an annual flu shot also decreased during this same period. This is something that’s improving at the national level, “but that trend went a little backwards in Iowa, where less individuals got their flu shot in 2019, compared to the prior time period.”

Randall also says that while educational attainment is often tied to health outcomes, the report found that’s not always the case. “We see a low disparity in Iowa for those who have received less than a high school education versus those who are college graduates and the rates of cancer.”

Randall says the report will start tracking trends related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the next few years as more data becomes available.

2 p.m. - Democrat Deidre DeJear forms committee to explore run for governor

Democrat Deidre DeJear , who ran for secretary of state in 2018, is taking the first steps toward launching a run for governor in 2022.

DeJear is a small business owner from Des Moines. She’s has formed an exploratory committee to raise money. DeJear is starting a listening tour of the state with an event tonight in Des Moines with small business owners and stops in six eastern and south-central Iowa cities this week as well.

In 2018, DeJear was the first Black Iowan to be nominated for statewide office by a major party. She lost to Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate. In 2019, DeJear served as Iowa campaign chair for Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.

10 a.m. - FBI: Iowa, Nebraska See Jump In Hate Crimes

Iowa and Nebraska have seen a rise in hate crimes in recent years, most of which have been committed on the basis of race and ethnicity, according to the FBI.

The FBI region that includes Iowa and Nebraska saw a 21 percent increase in the reporting of hate crimes between 2018 and 2019, Eugene Kowel, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Omaha field office, said at a Thursday news conference.

Kowel cited an Iowa case as an example of the kinds of hate crimes the agency has seen more of in recent years.

In the Iowa case, 43-year-old Nicole Poole Franklin, of Des Moines, pleaded guilty in April to federal hate crimes for driving onto Des Moines sidewalks to hit two children in separate attacks in 2019. Authorities said she targeted the children because she thought that one was Mexican and that the other was part of the Islamic State.

The FBI’s Omaha office has formed a multicultural advisory council, Kowel said, which is intended to help guide investigation strategies in hate crimes. The council is made up of community leaders and individuals from a cross-section of demographics.

Federal officials define a hate crime as a criminal offense, such as assault or arson, with an added element of bias against the intended target’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.

Entry via the Associated Press

9 a.m. - ISU mobile classroom gives students virtual experience

Thousands of Iowa students in grades K-12 are getting a taste of what it’s like to rocket into orbit as well as more down-to-earth pursuits in a mobile classroom venture from Iowa State University.

ISU industrial design professor Pete Evans coordinates the Forward Learning Experience, or FLEx, which combines creative thinking, STEM programs, and emerging technologies in a commercial cargo van.

“We’ll roll up to a school and we can either do these programs in the parking lot or we can go into classrooms,” Evans says. “We’ll have virtual reality headsets to provide the students — teachers, too — with these experiences.” FLEx is partnering with ISU’s Women in Science and Engineering Program, or WiSE, and recently landed a grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

With that money, Evans’ team merged virtual reality with a motion base to offer students thrill rides in a flight simulator. “The students can fly the newest training plane that Boeing and Saab have put together. It’s a brand new contract called the Redhawk,” Evans says. “This is what all of the future astronauts will learn to fly on.”

Launched in 2014, Evans says FLEx has reached 80,00o students in all corners of the state with plans to further broaden its scope in the year ahead. The flight simulator is versatile and can also offer realistic rides on everything from rollercoasters — to farm tractors.

“There’s a farming simulator application that’s pretty red-hot,” Evans says. “We’ve already got that hooked up. Students can hop into a Case or a Deere and start to be in virtual reality and test out some of these more local ideas — and futures — that are also very relevant.”

New programs in the coming months will include a celebration of NASA’s new Artemis program, offering glimpses of upcoming ventures to the Moon and to Mars.

Entry via Matt Kelley for Radio Iowa

6 a.m. - Iowa SBDC launches inclusivity challenge

The Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is starting a new inclusivity challenge. It’s meant to empower and support minority business owners and entrepreneurs as they recover from the pandemic.

The Inclusivity Challenge is part of the Iowa SBDC’s initiative to ensure minority business owners and entrepreneurs continue to be prosperous as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its goal is to connect those underrepresented businesses with resources and networks.

“There's no rules to how to successfully come out of a pandemic, there's no rules as to how we need to do the next steps in our business. So why don't we get out in front of this and define it? That's what we wanted to do.”

Lisa Shimkat is the state director of America’s SBDC for Iowa. She says it’s important to be proactive in helping businesses that are closing at a higher rate nationally. “And so, you know, we could form a committee, we could sit around and talk about it, but instead, let's just get out in front of this make decisions and make it happen.”

Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration and Iowa businesses will address some of the state’s gaps in access to resources at the kickoff event this Wednesday.