The Iowa Economic Development Authority has approved $842,000 in tax credits and refunds to an agricultural cooperative in western Iowa to upgrade its facility, and loans to four startups, three of them in Ames.

In action taken Friday, the IEDA board approved awards for Ag Processing Inc., which has six locations in Iowa. The company plans to upgrade its soybean processing facility in Sergeant Bluff to increase the sustainable crush rate, or the combined price of soybean meal and soybean oil minus the futures price of soybeans. This will allow members to sell products locally, where demand is higher, IEDA documents show.

Ag Processing buys, processes, markets and transports grains and other agriculture products.
The project will create two jobs paying a qualifying wage of $20.56 per hour. The company currently employs 128 people at the Sergeant Bluff facility.

Ag Processing will also receive a $578,243 tax abatement from Woodbury County, IEDA documents show.

In other action, the IEDA board approved support for four startups.
  • Ames-based Mazen Animal Health Inc. was awarded a $125,000 Demonstration Fund loan for intellectual property development and evaluation, marketing planning, key personnel, and regulatory requirements. The company develops oral animal vaccines.
  • Ames-based NanoSpy Inc. was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for intellectual property development and evaluation, proof of concept work, market planning and entry activities. The company, which was formed in the Iowa State University Startup Factory, produces a biosensor for the rapid detection of salmonella in food processing facilities to reduce the economic effect of foodborne illnesses. The technology speeds the ability to test for salmonella. Current methods require a two-day period before receiving lab results.
  • Townhall LLC, an educational software company in Ames, was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for intellectual property development and evaluation, product refinement, market planning, and key personnel.
  • West Des Moines-based Lola’s Fine Sauces Inc. was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Loan Fund for market analysis, proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning and entry activities, key personnel, and equipment. The company holds a family’s secret hot sauce recipe. The product line has expanded to seven sauces, five salsas, a seasoning mix and a bloody mary mix, and is sold in more than 10,000 stores nationwide.