New Extension Program Explores Rural Angel Investing

December 17, 2018

(Ames, IA) Rural stakeholders interested in learning about Iowa’s emerging rural investor networks for agricultural technology startups and strategic rural ventures are invited to a new educational workshop titled, “Strategies for Angel Investing.” The workshop is organized by an ISU Extension and Outreach initiative called the Iowa Rural Equity Project (IREP) and will be hosted by local extension offices in in rural counties across Iowa in 2019.

Dr. Mark Edelman, ISU Extension and Outreach Ag Economist and Bill Menner, Iowa Rural Development consultant will jointly be presenting the program, which is now in its pilot stages.

“With the uncertainty in agricultural trade, farm policy, and the rural economy; rural stakeholders have been showing interest in examining alternative investment opportunities that can lead to personal income growth as well as community economic vitality in rural regions,” said Edelman.  

Participants of the workshop will explore (1) Iowa’s current landscape and ecosystem for Ag Tech and strategic rural ventures, (2) basic diligence for analyzing Ag Tech and rural innovation opportunities, (3) fundamental strategies for angel investing, (4) networks to improve prospecting and performance, (5) legacy endowments and impact investing for improving rural vitality, access to equity capital and foundation returns, and (6) Opportunity Zones and other target location incentive programs. The program will conclude with a local preference survey and discussion regarding the alternative networks and follow-up programs.

If you are interested in attending a workshop, please email for more information.

Since 2002, Edelman has served as Director of the Community Vitality Center at Iowa State University, which supports entrepreneurship, philanthropy, rural dialogue and demonstration projects. Since joining ISU in 1986, Edelman has been involved in several rural business ventures, including rural housing, ethanol, and a rural angel investor network. He previously served on boards of Land O’Lakes, and Amaizing Energy, and is currently on the Ag Ventures Alliance Board, a business development cooperative based in Mason City.  He has co-authored columns for Extension, Farm Journal, Successful Farming, and Agri-Pulse Communications.

Menner is the Executive Director of the Iowa Rural Development Council. He previously served as Iowa’s State Director for USDA Rural Development for 7.5 years, and as Executive Director for Poweshiek County Economic Development prior to his USDA appointment.

The “Strategies for Angel Investing” initiative is co-sponsored by the “Iowa Rural Equity Project “(IREP) which is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Ag Ventures Alliance, Iowa Microloan foundation, and a statewide Steering Committee of 16 rural leaders and stakeholders. More information about the initiative and other IREP program dates can be found by visiting


CONTACT: Mark Edelman, Ph.D.
Iowa State University