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Wellmark Community Ventures Fund Increases Loan Opportunities

Companies seeking venture capital opportunities can now get a larger loan from the Wellmark Community Ventures Fund, administered through the University of Iowa's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and three other Centers in Iowa.

In an effort to increase opportunities for funding, Wellmark, Inc. has increased the initial maximum loan amount from $50,000 to $100,000. Total investment over time is now capped at $150,000 per company, up from $100,000.

Since June 2003, nearly $1 million has been invested in 19 companies in 14 communities by Wellmark, Inc. All loans are administered through the Pappajohn Centers at the UI, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, and North Iowa Area Community College.

This program was designed to encourage development of ideas, new companies and job creation in the State of Iowa. Venture projects are identified, investigated and recommended by staff at the Pappajohn Centers. Equity Dynamics continues to serve as an advisor to Wellmark in these transactions. New candidates are encouraged to apply for funding.

Wellmark, Inc. made a commitment of $25 million to fund Iowa-based economic development opportunities in 2002, of which $5 million was pledged to the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers to fund business start-ups.

Since its implementation, some requirements have been changed such as the amount of Iowa ownership the company is required to have and a more flexible treatment of companies with multiple classes of stock. The note will continue to be structured as a convertible, 5-year loan with 7 percent annual interest.

Applicant companies must be Iowa-based, for-profit corporations. In general, the Wellmark Fund supports ventures engaged in information technology, educational technology, advanced manufacturing, technology-related industries, medical or surgical advancements, biotechnology and cutting-edge computer-related products or software.

The Fund prefers companies that have already established a market for their products through previous sales or the receipt of orders. However, earlier stage companies may be considered if their concept fills a market need and has a potential for commercialization.

Additional information on the Wellmark Community Ventures Fund, evaluation criteria, reporting requirements, and the application process can be obtained from the UI JPEC website.


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