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Iowa Incentives and Workforce Development Guide

Visit Real Street's website to learn more about this event. The updated Iowa incentives guide is brought to you by Real Street Expo, a new event sponsored by Business Facilities and Today’s Facility Manager magazines.

For a list of Iowa economic development agencies that can help with the site selection process, visit our Online Site Seekers’ Guide.


High Quality Jobs Program (HQJP) :
The state’s premier financial assistance program designed to support innovation and job growth. The program provides both direct financial assistance to companies in the form of loans and/or forgivable loans and tax credits. To qualify for this very flexible assistance package that includes loans/forgivable loans, tax credits, exemptions and/or refunds, a business must be a non-retail or non-service business. Actual award amounts will be based on the business’ level of need; the quality of the jobs; the percentage of created or retained jobs defined as high quality; and the economic impact of the project. Created jobs must pay at least 100% of the qualifying wage threshold at the start of the project and 120% of the qualifying wage threshold by project completion and through the project maintenance period. Retained jobs must pay at least 120% of the qualifying wage threshold throughout the project completion and maintenance periods. The business must provide a sufficient benefits package to all full time employees.
Demonstration Fund :
Provides financial awards up to $150,000 to encourage commercialization activities by small and medium-sized Iowa companies in the advanced manufacturing, biosciences, and information technology industries. The fund is designed to encourage product refinements, market planning and market entry activities of unique products to foster competitive, profitable companies that create high paying jobs and wealth in Iowa.
Export Trade Assistance :
The International Office at the Iowa Economic Development Authority offers financial assistance to eligible Iowa small companies to help companies market their products and services to a global audience. The Export Trade Assistance Program (ETAP) Program may reimburse Iowa companies for up to 75% of its international marketing expenditures in a qualifying trade show or IEDA trade mission held outside the U.S., to explore new markets or provide support to expand current markets.
Iowa Capital Access Program (ICAP) :
Assists Iowa businesses in securing the financing they need to launch, retain or expand business operations in Iowa. ICAP encourages banks and other eligible financial institutions to consider small business loans that fall outside of conventional underwriting criteria by providing loan portfolio insurance to reduce lender risk and help businesses retain and create jobs for Iowans. IEDA has contracted with Iowa Business Growth Company (IBGC) to administer ICAP. Eligible loans include real estate, construction, equipment and working capital loans and term loans and lines of credit up to $500,000.
  • Borrowers: Any for-profit or non-profit business located in the state of Iowa with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Lenders: Eligible lenders include federally insured banks, credit unions, and community development financial institutions.
Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund :
Promotes the formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of technology into competitive, profitable companies that create high paying jobs. The funds are designed to support commercializing research, launching new start-ups and accelerating private investment and industrial expansion efforts that result in significant capital investment. The fund provides financing to eligible businesses through three program components that correspond to three different stages of growth for investment-grade, high-growth enterprises.

Tax Incentives

Assistive Device Tax Credit :
An assistive device is any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability in the workplace or on the job. To qualify for the Tax Credit, a business must be located in Iowa, employ 14 or fewer full time employees OR have$3 million dollars or less in gross annual receipts. The credit applies to expenditures made on or after January 1, 2000, and equals one-half of the first $5,000 in qualifying expenses each tax year. Excess credits can be refunded or carried over to the next tax year.
Brownfield/Grayfield Tax Credit Program :
Offers qualifying projects tax credits of up to 24% for qualifying costs of a Brownfield project and 30% if the project meets green building requirements. “Grayfield” is also included in the tax credit program. A Grayfield project can receive tax credits of up to 12% of qualifying costs and 15% if the project meets green building requirements. Tax credits are available on a first come first served basis, with a maximum tax credit per project of $500,000 and a$5,000,000 maximum for each fiscal year. An audit of qualifying expenses from an independent Iowa certified public accountant is required prior to issuance of all tax credit certificates.
Enterprise Zones :
Through state and local tax incentives, businesses and developers are encouraged to make new investments, and create or retain jobs in economically distressed areas in Iowa. The goal of the program is to revitalize these areas and make them competitive with other locations throughout the state. An incentive for housing development may also be available to developers and contractors building or rehabilitating housing in an established enterprise zone.
New Jobs Tax Credit :
An Iowa corporate income tax credit available to a company that has entered into a New Jobs Training Agreement (260E) and expands their Iowa employment base by 10% or more. The amount of this one-time tax credit will depend upon the wages a company pays and the year in which the tax credit is first claimed. Unused credits may be carried forward up to 10 years. The tax credit may be claimed on Form IA 133 found on the Iowa Department of Revenue Web site.
Research Activities Tax Credit :
Iowa is one of very few states to have continuously offered this refundable tax credit for increasing a company’s research activities. A company must meet the qualifications of the Federal Research Activities Credit in order to be eligible for the credit in Iowa. For companies qualifying for either the High Quality Jobs Program or the Enterprise Zone program, there is possible supplemental credit of 3% if gross revenues are over $20 million or 10% if gross revenues are under $20 million.
Targeted Jobs Withholding Tax Credit :
Enacted in 2006, it allows the diversion of withholding funds paid by an employer to be matched by a designated “pilot” city to create economic incentives that can be directed toward the growth and expansion of targeted businesses located within Urban Renewal areas. An approved “pilot” city may enter into a withholding agreement:
  • with a business that is locating to its community from another state and is creating targeted jobs within an urban renewal area; or
  • an existing Iowa business that is creating 10 new targeted jobs or makes a qualifying investment of $500,000 within an urban renewal area.

Investor Tax Credits

Endow Iowa :
Administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, it was created to enhance the quality of life for Iowa citizens through increased philanthropic activity by encouraging new investments to existing community foundations and facilitating the creation of new community foundations. The major component of the program is a state tax credit equal to 25% of a qualifying gift to a community foundation. The gift must be to an endowment fund within the qualified foundation or community affiliate organization. The tax credits can be claimed by individuals, businesses or financial institutions.
Iowa Community Based Seed Funds :
A Community Based Seed Fund is a group of individuals pooling their money to create a fund that will invest in start-up or early stage companies. A fund may choose to invest only in local projects. However, they can also “network” for the opportunity to invest in other projects and partner up with other funds in Iowa. The benefit of this arrangement is to leverage investment dollars and provide more opportunities for a greater return on investment. A statewide group of investors is forming an association to share deal flow and due diligence. As a general rule community based seed fund look for a 40% to 50% return on seed and start-up financing, 30% to 40% on second stage financing and 25% to 30% on later stage financing.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) :
Businesses are given the incentive to construct new industrial or commercial facilities by receiving direct benefit from the property tax increase caused by the added value of those new facilities.

How It Works:

  • Business constructs new industrial or commercial facility
  • New facility increases property tax assessed on the business
  • City councils or county board of supervisors may use the additional property tax to:
  1. Finance direct grants or loans to the business.
  2. Offset the costs of public improvements or provision of utilities to serve the new private development.
  3. Provide the local match for federal or state economic development assistance programs.

Workforce Development

To help Iowa companies maintain their competitive edge, the Iowa Economic Development Authority will help develop a workforce and training program to meet the specific needs of a company. By leveraging training resources, filling funding gaps in human resource development initiatives and sponsoring business consortia that address common employment training needs, the skills of Iowa’s workers are enhanced, allowing its industries to grow.

Accelerated Career Education Program (260G) :
Assists Iowa’s community colleges in establishing/expanding programs that train individuals in the occupations most needed by Iowa businesses.
Community College Business Network Training Program :
Provides funding assistance to two or more businesses participating in training programs based in one or more community colleges.
Community College Consortium :
Provides funding assistance for community college-sponsored employee training projects in which two or more businesses participate.
Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training Program (260E) :
Provides no-cost or reduced-cost job training services to new employees of eligible businesses through Iowa’s community college system.
Iowa Jobs Training Program (260F) :
Provides job training services to current employees of eligible businesses that are located in Iowa.
Iowa Student Internship Program :
Links college students from Iowa schools to internship opportunities in small and medium sized firms in the biosciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology industries with the goal of transitioning the interns to full-time employment in the state upon graduation.


About The Author

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager. In September 2012, she transitioned to a new role dedicated to developing online content for Business Facilities and Today's Facility Manager. Schwartz can be reached at [email protected]

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