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CBJ Report: SwineTech wins Farm Bureau's Entrepreneur of the Year award

Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza, the University of Iowa students behind SwineTech Inc., were named the American Farm Bureau Federation's Entrepreneurs of the Year this week, beating out three other ag-tech startups from across the country.

Timberline expansion among prospects for Blairs Ferry Road

The Grabau property at Lindale Drive and Blairs Ferry Road, one of the last undeveloped remnants in a mature commercial and residential area of Marion.

More than 20 acres could be opening for development in the booming Blairs Ferry Road area of Marion, including an area that could provide for the expansion for Timberline Manufacturing.

Timberline Manufacturing, at 1050 Lyons Lane, is seeking a preliminary plat approval for 12.1 acres of property at 1050 Lyons Lane and 1029 Blairs Ferry Road NE that would create three commercial lots. Two lots of about 1.26 acres each will face Blairs Ferry Road, and could accommodate a variety of commercial uses. A third lot of 9.7 acres on the north side of the property is designated for expansion of Timberline, a growing employee-owned contract electronics manufacturer.

"We definitely need to expand," said Greg Ervin, director of sales. "We have made offers on existing buildings throughout the area."

Mr. Ervin said Timberline is still working through the planning process, and hasn't decided how much of the site, if any, it will use for expansion. Marion Economic Development Corp. is working with the company on its expansion needs, MEDCO President Nick Glew said.

Nearby, Oralee and Leonard Grabau are seeking preliminary plat approval for 10.65 acres to permit future development of undeveloped property zoned I-1 (office transitional) at the southeast corner of Lindale Drive and Blairs Ferry Road. Signs indicate a sale of the property is pending.

Further west at 1440 Blairs Ferry Road NE, the landscaping company Bladeworks has begun work on development of a retail shop for its new Blooms by Bladeworks garden center. The project could help fill a retail void created when Peck's Green Thumb Nursery closed permanently at the end of the summer season at Edgewood Road and Blairs Ferry Road, its property sold for the development of the 21-acre Peck's Landing retail development by Ahmann Companies.

SwineTech wins Farm Bureau's Entrepreneur of the Year award

Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza, the University of Iowa students behind SwineTech Inc., were named the American Farm Bureau Federation's Entrepreneurs of the Year this week, beating out three other ag-tech startups from across the country.

The company took home a total of $30,000 in prize money, including an additional $15,000 from Farm Bureau convention sponsor Deere & Co., for its technology that aims to reduce piglet mortality in animal confinement operations.

SwineTech and the three other finalists pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges before a live audience as part of the competition. They were chosen from 471 applicants, and each received $15,000 in October from Farm Credit before advancing in the competition, according to the Farm Bureau.

The win is the latest accolade for SwineTech, which has already won about $300,000 in prize grants and raised $1.3 million in Series A funding. In 2017, the company won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, a national competition for collegiate inventors, along with the National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Inventors Competition. Its technology was also named Global Innovation of the Year in Frankfurt, Germany, and Mr. Rooda and Mr. Espinoza were also recognized by Forbes in November as members of its annual 30 Under 30 class.

New data points to burdensome regulatory climate in Iowa

New research on the state's regulatory framework released Tuesday suggests Iowa's administrative code is overly burdensome to business and industry and could be holding back economic growth.

The analysis, conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University using their State RegData platform, revealed more than 160,306 state restrictions that would take one person about 563 hours - or more than 14 weeks - to read.

The StateRegData platform allows users to quickly analyze state regulations and identify the specific industries most targeted by excessive regulation. Users can run their own analyses on the platform comparing regulations across various industries in under a minute.

"As governor, I'm committed to eliminating red tape throughout state government," Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement announcing the new research tool and the study's findings. "We know regulations play an important role in ensuring the well-being of Iowans. So we must balance ways to cut through red tape while still protecting the health, safety and welfare of our citizens."

Iowa has taken steps to alleviate regulatory burdens,including a 2011 executive order requiring all new regulations be justified by job impact statements. One year later, a law was passed requiring all agencies to review their administrative regulations every five years.

Iowans can also get involved in the administrative rules process, using rules.iowa.gov to comment on pending rules.

"I encourage all Iowans to actively check this website and proactively contribute to our rulemaking process. We want to hear from you," Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg said in a release. "Tools such as the ones mentioned today give citizens the ability to be more engaged in and informed about the governing process."

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