The Iowa Economic Development Authority board on Friday approved $4.5 million in funding for the creation of the Iowa Bioscience Development Center.  

The grant for the Iowa Bioscience Development Center supports implementation of a Biosciences Development Roadmap for the state released in December 2017. The funding of $4.5 million will be distributed over three years for creation of the IBDC, which will bring together partners from research institutions, global companies, entrepreneurs, investors and government to accelerate bioscience sector growth and development in Iowa. Creating the center is one of four strategic goals outlined in the plan. In July, the Iowa Innovation Corp. released a job posting for a president and CEO to develop and lead the center. 

The board also awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to a specialty pork processor in Sioux County and an Ames agriculture technology company that will assist in the creation of 90 jobs and result in nearly $30 million in new capital investment. 

The financial assistance awards included: 

- Sioux-Preme Packing Co., which plans to expand its pork harvest operation in Sioux County with a 50,000-square-foot addition to help meet demand for its specialty pork products. The Sioux Center facility was acquired by Perdue Farms in 2015 as part of its acquisition of Natural Food Holdings and its brands. The expansion will include installation of high-tech automated pork cutting equipment and water jet cutting technologies. The project represents a $29 million investment by Sioux-Preme and will create 50 jobs, of which 10 include incentives for a qualifying wage of $20.41 per hour. Sioux-Preme was awarded tax incentives from the High Quality Jobs Program. 

- Smart Ag Inc. in Ames, which received $250,000 in direct financial assistance as well as tax benefits from the High Quality Jobs Program. The company, founded in 2015, makes agriculture technology to fully automate tractors so they may be used without drivers for various operations. The kits and software sold to dealers and farmers are aimed at reducing labor requirements and increasing efficiency. The company plans to add on and make improvements to its leased facility in Ames. Smart Ag is investing $830,000 in the project, which is expected to create 40 jobs, all of which pay a qualifying wage of $26.11 per hour. 

The board also approved a Strategic Infrastructure Program grant of $1.5 million to the University of Northern Iowa’s Metal Casting Center, which will help UNI purchase and set up new equipment that will enable the use of 3D printing to produce high quality investment castings more quickly and consistently. 

The IEDA board also approved a bid from LS2/FleishmanHillard for marketing and communications services in response to a request for proposal issued in May. The board approved staff to execute a contract for an amount not to exceed $5.2 million for the remainder of the current fiscal year.